TOYOTA GAZOO Racing locked out the front row for the opening race of the 2019-2020 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) season in qualifying for the 4 Hours of Silverstone.
On a warm, dry afternoon, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi, who share the #7 TS050 HYBRID with José María López, earned pole position and the bonus point to take an early lead in the World Championship with an average lap time of 1min 36.015secs.
Kamui’s lap time of 1min 35.992secs was the fastest ever set by an LMP1 car at Silverstone, an achievement all the more remarkable as the #7 crew had to work through the night to switch to the spare chassis after the original monocoque was damaged at the end of second practice on Friday.
Sunday’s race will begin with an all-TOYOTA front row after Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima took second place in qualifying in the #8 TS050 HYBRID they share with Brendon Hartley, who will make his TOYOTA GAZOO Racing race debut at Silverstone.
The #8 crew were just 0.300secs behind the sister car, with both TS050 HYBRIDs holding off a renewed challenge from Rebellion Racing, whose #1 car was 0.545secs away from pole position. A year ago, the nearest non-hybrid competitor was 2.037secs off pole, while Rebellion were 2.352secs away.
The first race in the 2019-2020 WEC season begins at midday on Sunday, starting an eight-round contest for World Championship honours which will run all the way to the chequered flag at the 2020 Le Mans 24 Hours on 14 June.
1st #7 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing 1min 36.015secs
2nd #8 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing +0.300secs
3rd #1 Rebellion (Senna/Menezes/Nato) +0.545secs
4th #3 Rebellion (Berthon/Derani/Duval) +1.009secs
5th #6 Ginetta (Simpson/Jarvis/Smith) +1.205secs
6th #5 Ginetta (Robertson/Hanley/Orudzhev) +1.449secs