24 Hours of Le Mans, Toyota Hybrid Racing Grabs Pole Position


Published on June 14th, 2014 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez


24 Hours of Le Mans, Toyota Hybrid Racing Grabs Pole Position


Nakajima’s Toyota No. 7 took pole position at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, giving the Japanese manufacturer a head start in its bid for a first win in the famed endurance race. Nakajima became the first Japanese driver to set the fastest time in qualifying at Le Mans, clocking 3 minutes, 21.789 seconds on Thursday on the 13-kilometer circuit.

The pole is the brand’s first at Le Mans since 1999 when the TS020 or Toyota GT-One secured the top starting spot.


The new TS040 Hybrid blasted the pole time set in 2013 by the race winning #2 Audi R18 e-tron Quattro, shaving over half a second off the time. Having already claimed the provisional pole thanks to a fast time in the disrupted second qualifying session, the #8 car was forced to defend an evening charge from Porsche Motorsport and sent Nakajima out for a fast lap. A 3:21.789 ensured that a Toyota would lead from the front at 15:00 on Saturday. In fact both cars improved their pace in the third and final session of qualifying.


While the final qualifying session ran stoppage free, unlike the earlier two chances to set pole, it was by no means unimpeded. Several yellow flag zones and the debut of the ‘Slow Zone’ restricted speed areas at Le Mans ensured that not all running was clear. In fact the shootout for the top spot expected at the end of the session didn’t happen after an incident forced a slow zone from Arnage to the Porsche Curves.

Goodyear f1 650x85(DSF)

The Toyota Hybrid Racing team also used the session to work on additional setup options and evaluate tyres. Toyota’s chances look good as Sebastien Buemi’s Toyota No. 8 will start from third on the grid. In its return to Le Mans after a 16-year absence in the top category, Porsche will start from second and fourth. At the wheel of Porsche No. 14, Romain Dumas set the second best time, 0.357 off the pace. Audi showed a lack of pace in qualifying. Its three cars will start from fifth, sixth and seventh.

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