Toyota Gazoo Racing has locked out the front row of the grid for Sunday’s FIA World Endurance Championship race, with Rebellion Racing remaining close on one-lap speed in qualifying.
Mike Conway started off qualifying with a rapid first flying lap in the #7 Toyota, going top with a 1:36.038, and immediately pitting afterwards to hand over to Kamui Kobayashi. The Japanese racer promptly lapped faster than anyone else has this weekend, setting a 1:35.992, meaning a spectacular average time of 1:36.015.
Nakajima needed a second flying lap to leapfrog Bruno Senna’s 1:36.599 in the #1 Rebellion, getting the #8 TS050 Hybrid to a 1:36.307. Buemi took the second Toyota over, and a lap time of 1:36.323 was the result, leaving a 1:36.315 average.
A 1:36.560 was the average lap for the #1 Rebellion Racing squad, with Gustavo Menezes bettering Senna’s time fractionally with a 1:36.521. The #3 Rebellion averaged a 1:37.024 for fourth on the grid, ahead of the Team LNT Ginettas. Oliver Jarvis and Michael Simpson delivered an average of 1:37.220 for fifth on the grid in the #6, just clear of the #5 squad.
Pole was a big reward for the #7 Toyota crew, who had to replace the chassis of the TS050 Hybrid after a heavy altercation with the curbing during Free Practice 2 caused damage to the tub.
LMP2: Racing Team Nederland takes maiden pole
Racing Team Nederland ended the weekend-long dominance of the #22 United Autosports crew, with Job van Uitert and Giedo van der Garde piloting the #29 ORECA to a 1:40.948 average, with the silver-rated van Uitert achieving the fastest time of anyone in the class, a 1:40.850.
The Dutch outfit’s fellow ORECA newbies will not be far away when racing gets started tomorrow, though; Phil Hanson and Paul Di Resta will line up second in LMP2 courtesy of a 1:41.683 average.
The second row in LMP2 will be filled by the #37 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca, and the similar #42 car of Cool Racing.
GTE Pro: AF Corse to the fore
AF Corse locked out the front row in GTE Pro, with Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado topping the session in the #71 Ferrari with an average time of 1:54.171.
A big spin for Gianmaria Bruni (#91 Porsche) at Farm immediately after his first flying lap would ultimately disrupt the session with a red flag for debris removal. While the high-speed spin was harmless in its own right, it damaged the tyres. This then became a bigger problem at the end of the Hangar Straight, as the car shed its left-front quarter panel due to the rubber coming apart.
Once green-flag action resumed, Pier Guidi pulled out further pace in the #51 AF Corse Ferrari with a 1:54.019. This would be enough for the GTE Pro pole, with an average time of 1:54.171 between him and Calado.
Rigon and Miguel Molina complete an all-AF Corse front row, ahead of the recovering Bruni and Richard Lietz in the #91 Porsche (average time 1:55.067), and the #97 Aston Martin of Alex Lynn and Maxime Martin in the fourth spot, with a 1:55.133 average time.
The #95 Aston Martin and the #92 Porsche round out the GTE Pro grid.
GTE Am: TF Sport takes pole with new Vantage
Charlie Eastwood and Salih Yoluc secured pole for TF Sport with the #90 Aston Martin Vantage AMR. Factory driver Jonny Adam elected to allow his team-mates the chance to handle qualifying, and it paid dividends.
Speaking shortly after his contribution to the 1:56.034 average time, Eastwood said: “It’s great working with Jonny. He has experience with the car from last year, so obviously, he brings a lot to the table.”
The second place in GTE Am went the way of Team Project 1’s #56 911 RSR, while the #98 Aston Martin beat the best of the Ferraris, the #83 AF Corse entry.
The World Endurance Championship teams and drivers will begin the 4 Hours of Silverstone at midday on Sunday.