Watch Kobayashi’s record-setting lap here. Could this finally be Toyota’s year?
Toyota doesn’t need reminding just how rubbish 2016 was as a year. Having led last year’s Le Mans 24hrs from the 17th hour, the #5 car in the lead ground to a halt on its final lap, handing Porsche the victory.
This week’s qualifying run then, is testament to just how hard and how fast Toyota is coming at the Le Mans grid. Kamui Kobayashi – a man famed for his ability to go absolutely nuts in a racing car – has put his #7 Toyota on pole for this year’s race.
Which sets up another tantalising battle. But it’s the manner in which he put his car on pole that’s of note: he smashed the qualifying lap record at Le Mans with a run of 3m 14.791 seconds.
That’s 2.096s quicker than Porsche’s Neel Jani managed on his qualifying run in 2015, with a time of 3m 16.887s. Basically, it’s really, really quick.
Kobayashi and his team will be followed up by the #8 Toyota driven by Nakajima, Davidson and Buemi who qualified second, with Lotterer, Tandy and Jani’s Porsche 919 in third.
It’s set up to be a cracker – could this finally be the year when Toyota take the top spot?