TOYOTA GAZOO Racing will start the 6 Hours of Nürburgring from pole position after an impressive performance in qualifying for the fourth round of the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).
Kamui Kobayashi and José María López took top spot by 0.154secs from the #2 Porsche for a third pole position in four races for #7 TS050 HYBRID they share with Mike Conway.
The two Porsche 919 Hybrids will start from second and third places on the grid in Sunday’s six-hour race at the Nürburgring, round four of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). The championship leading Le Mans winners, Earl Bamber (NZ), Timo Bernhard (DE) and Brendon Hartley (NZ) qualified on the front row. Grid position three went to the crew of the reigning world champion Neel Jani (CH), André Lotterer (DE) and Nick Tandy (GB).
“I’ve got mixed emotions as we definitely had a car capable of getting pole today,” commented Hartley. “My lap wasn’t 100% perfect while Timo was delayed by traffic. We missed out on pole by just over one-tenth of a second so it was very close. Thankfully the No8 Toyota, our closest rival in terms of the championship, starts from P4.”
Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima suffered misfortune on their way to fourth place in the #8 TS050 HYBRID while team-mate Sébastien Buemi watched from the garage.
The Nürburgring has not been a happy hunting ground for TOYOTA, with fifth place its best result in the Eifel, but a strong qualifying raises hopes of a best-ever result at this track.
José María took part in his first WEC qualifying and immediately put the #7 in first place while Kazuki did well to avoid a swerving LMP2 car on his opening lap. That incident, which saw the LMP2 driver called to the stewards for dangerous driving, ruined Kazuki’s first flying lap and compromised the qualifying session for the #8.
Kamui, who set a record-beating pole time at Le Mans last month, completed the job for the #7 with another quick time, beating the 2016 pole position average by 1.326secs, while Anthony encountered traffic at the beginning of his lap and took fourth.
The point earned for pole reduces TOYOTA’s gap to Porsche to 23.5 points while the #8 crew remain 17 behind the Porsche #2 line-up in the drivers’ standings. The target for Sunday’s race remains to fight for victory and move closer to the lead of both championships.
1st #7 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing 1min 38.118secs
2nd #2 Porsche (Bernhard/Bamber/Hartley) +0.154secs
3rd #1 Porsche (Jani/Lotterer/Tandy) +0.160secs
4th #8 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing +0.585secs
5th #26 G-Drive (Rusinov/Thiriet/Hanley) +6.883secs
6th #38 Jackie Chan (Tung/Jarvis/Laurent) +7.079secs