Le Mans 24: Nakajima takes pole for Toyota #8

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Race event, Le Mans 24 hours, Circuit de la Sarthefr

Toyota Gazoo Racing is set to see its cars start the Le Mans 24 hours race on Saturday from the best two positions of the grid. In car #8, it was Nakajima who recorded the car's two fastest laps, both of which were good enough for pole position.

Nakajima already put the #8 (S. Buemi / K. Nakajima / F. Alonso) on top during the first qualifying session that was run on Wednesday, but the performance was underlined by an improved lap. Just 7 minutes into the extended final qualifying session, Nakajima recorded 3:15.377.

This means that Fernando Alonso will start his first Le Mans 24h from pole position, as he is set to take the first stint in the #8.

Nakajima's best was exactly two seconds faster than the sister Toyota #7 (M. Conway / K. Kobayashi / J. Lopez) that is set to start from second position. The latter didn't improve in the third and final session as rain continued to prevent drivers to do all-out qualifying laps. The Rebellion #3 (T. Laurent / M. Beche / G. Menezes) will position in third place on the grid, followed by SMP Racing #17 (S. Sarrazin / E. Orudzhev / M. Isaakyan) and Rebellion #1 (A. Lotterer / N. Jani / B. Senna). The #11 car of Jenson Button qualified in 7th place.

The 10 LMP1s are in the top 10 overall spots. Today, the #5 and #6 Ginetta G60-LT-P1s were sufficiently fast to catch up to the other LMP1s.

LMP2

The battle between two French teams, TDS Racing and IDEC Sport, continued today. Though IDEC Sport dominated LMP2 yesterday, it was TDS Racing's turn to take the reins after this final qualifying session. The #28 ORECA 07-Gibson was the fastest in the class with a time of 3:24.816 clocked by Loïc Duval. The previous 24 Hours winner is back at Le Mans after a one-year break, and doesn't seem to have lost any speed or familiarity with the circuit. However, his time was annulled for non-compliance with the mandatory technical check at the entrance to pit lane. Therefore, IDEC Sport takes the pole in the LMP2 class.

In second and third positions are French team DragonSpeed (#31 ORECA 07-Gibson) and G-Drive Racing (#26 ORECA 07-Gibson). TDS Racing is in fourth with Panis Barthez Compétition rounding out the top 5, the first team on the starting grid with a Ligier JS P217-Gibson chassis. All the LMP2s are within 15 seconds, from 3:24.842 for Paul-Loup Chatin to 3:39.518 for the #25 Ligier JS P217-Gibson fielded by Algarve Pro Racing driven by Petterson-De Jong-Kim.

GTE

Porsche managed a one-two in LMGTE Pro, and even a hat trick in LMGTE Am, even though multiple incidents repeatedly disrupted both days of sessions. Today, Kevin Estre pulled right going into the Porsche Curves with the #92 911 RSR. Early in the evening, Sven Müller (#94 Porsche 911 RSR) had an incident at Indianapolis. The 911 RSRs were on top of their game, especially at the biggest braking points of the circuit.

The #66 Ford GT is in third position after a rather eventful Thursday evening for the American marque, including incidents for Andy Priaulx and Tony Kanaan at the wheel of the #67 Ford GT. Winner in the class in 2016, Ford will occupy third, fifth, seventh and 11th positions in the LMGTE Pro class.

The top 15 cars in the class are grouped within less than 3.5 seconds. Only the Aston Martin Vantage GTEs didn't make it into the top 15.

Dempsey Proton Competition placed both its cars in the LMGTE Am top three. Even better, the #88 Porsche 911 RSR rose to the level of an LMGTE Pro with a time of 3:50.728.

Full results can be found at the official Le Mans 24 hours website: https://www.lemans.org/en/page/results/101