Kamui Kobayashi puts Toyota on pole for Monza 6 Hours

Kamui Kobayashi puts Toyota on pole for Monza 6 Hours

Toyota Gazoo’s Kamui Kobayashi claimed the pole position for tomorrow’s Monza 6 Hours, putting a stop to Ferrari’s celebration following their historic triumph in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Ahead of tomorrow’s eagerly anticipated six-hour home race for the Le Mans-winning Ferrari AF Corse team, Toyota Gazoo Racing won its third pole position of the 2023 FIA WEC season at Monza this afternoon.

The #7 GR010 HYBRID which is hoping to recover this weekend after a terribly disappointing DNF in France set the fastest time thanks to Kamui Kobayashi. His best time, a 1:35.358, was set with six minutes left in the 15-minute Hypercar practice, giving the #7 crew the pole position for the second time this season.

In the top Hypercar division, 13 cars were fighting for pole position, but the number seven Toyota GR010 Hybrid driven by Kobayashi, Mike Conway, and Jose Maria Lopez won by just 0.017 seconds over the number 50 Ferrari 499P driven by Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina, and Nicklas Nielsen.

On their flying laps, the top three qualifiers, including Brendon Hartley in the eighth-place Toyota, crossed the start/finish line only a few meters apart from each other. Kobayashi set a new Hypercar lap record with a time of 1’35.358 while waiting in line.

After their disappointing second-place finish at Le Mans last month, Hartley and co-drivers Sebastien Buemi and Ryo Hirakawa are in first place by 25 points in the Hypercar championship standings.

“The lap times were very close. I am pretty happy. It’s been very difficult to know now who will be strong so far this weekend, so it’s good to start on the pole,” a jubilant Kobayashi said after the session.

“It was challenging for everyone, but I think we have a great car for this weekend. It will be hotter tomorrow, so it will be a big challenge for tyre degradation. We need to find a solution.”

Ferrari AF Corse came agonizingly close to securing the ideal starting position in their home event. Instead, the #50 499P of Antonio Fuoco finished second and on the front row with a time of 1:35.375. The Italian’s timing was only 0.017 seconds slower than Kobayashi’s flier.

Brendon Hartley placed third with a 1:35.460 in the sibling Toyota, which was also quick.

On the second row of the grid, Peugeot’s #93 9X8 will get underway next to the #8 GR010. Building on its remarkable performance in the first half of the Le Mans 24 Hours, the French team has unexpectedly emerged as a contender here.

Jean-Eric Vergne recorded the best lap time for the French manufacturer, a 1:35.662, finishing third-from-pole only by three tenths.

In the number two Cadillac V-Series, Alex Lynn was fifth fastest, and the Le Mans-winning number 51 Ferrari driven by Antonio Giovinazzi, Alessandro Pier Guidi, and James Calado came in sixth, four tenths off the pole.

The factory-run #6 Penske Porsche 963 of Frederic Makowiecki, the privately-run #38 Team Jota Porsche of Yifei Ye, the number 94 Peugeot of Gustavo Menezes, the factory-run #6 Penske Porsche 963 of Gustavo Menezes, and the number five Penske Porsche of Kevin Estre round out the top 10.

The 708 Glickenhaus 007 of Olivier Pla, who unexpectedly won the pole last year, qualified 11th this time, 1.2 seconds off the pole time and more than a second off the pole-winning lap time of co-driver Romain Dumas.

This weekend saw the entry of a second privately operated Porsche 963 from the German team Proton Competition, expanding the field of Hypercars by one. In the number 99 Porsche, Harry Tincknell qualified 12th, over a second and a half ahead of Esteban Guerrieri’s number four Vanwall Vandervell 680.

Robert Kubica, driving the championship-leading number 41 Team WRT Oreca 07/Gibson, achieved his maiden pole position in LMP2.

In GTE Am, Sarah Bovy took the lead in the number 85 Iron Lynx Porsche 911 RSR-19 for her second pole position of the year. With at least a second-place finish in tomorrow’s GTE Am race, Corvette Racing can claim the title.

Although Ahmad Al Harthy’s ORT by TF Aston Martin didn’t take pole, a late improvement was enough to keep his Vantage from sliding to row two and put it on the front row of the grid. His final lap, in the final burst of fast times, was a 1:48.058.

Christien Ried’s #77 Dempsey Proton Porsche finished third. With a time of 1:48.427 in the #83 Richard Mille AF Corse Ferrari, Luis Perez Companc finished fourth, giving him three top-four finishes.

Mike Wainwright, who rose as high as second in the final minutes, would set an outstanding 1:48.464 to take sixth.

The championship-leading Corvette Racing C8.R, which is back to running with success ballast this weekend, had a difficult session. Ben Keating initially had trouble with the traction control systems in the car during his first run, had a lap cut off, and finished sixth.

Corvette currently finds itself needing a victory or a second-place finish to clinch the championship this weekend due to not having secured the point for pole.

The aforementioned caution appeared midway through the GTE Am session. After separate incidents involving Project 1 AO’s Efrin Castro and GR Racing’s Mike Wainwright at the Ascari chicane, the race was halted to give marshals time to clear the gravel that had piled on the track.

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