• Kyodo


Kamui Kobayashi clocked the fastest-ever qualifying lap as he drove his Toyota into overall pole position for the 24 Hours of Le Mans on Thursday.

Kobayashi and his co-drivers Mike Conway and Stephane Sarrazin will be joined on the front row of the weekend’s race by the Toyota GAZOO Racing team’s sister car driven by Kazuki Nakajima, who set the second-fastest qualifying time, and his teammates Sebastien Buemi and Anthony Davidson.

“A big thanks to the team for this result. I got in the car with 100 percent confidence and when you are confident, you are quick,” said Kobayashi who with the same co-drivers finished second in the 2016 race.

“It was an amazing lap and the car was brilliant. It was the right moment. . . . I am really proud of this pole position. Still, it is a 24-hour race so the important thing is the race result and that is what we are focusing on.”

Kobayashi’s 3-minute, 14.791-second lap was a full 2.096 seconds faster than the previous lap record around the Circuit de la Sarthe in central France and 2.337 seconds faster than Nakajima’s championship-leading No. 8 Toyota.

Porsche’s two entries qualified third and fourth in what might be their last crack at the race, with unconfirmed rumors swirling that the manufacturer may be leaning towards pulling out of the World Endurance Championship’s LMP1 category.

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