Toyota to start on the front row for the 6 Hours of Fuji

Toyota to start on the front row for the 6 Hours of Fuji

Toyota Gazoo Racing has secured the front row for its home FIA WEC event at the Fuji Speedway tomorrow after an impressive performance in Qualifying this afternoon.

The #7 GR010 HYBRID will start from the front of the pack after Kamui Kobayashi posted a time of 1:27.794. The session, which was hampered by a late rain shower that hampered any improvements in the final few minutes, saw only the Japanese driver record a time under 1:28.

With Brendon Hartley in charge of the #8, he was able to set a 1:28.418 to guarantee an all-Toyota front row for the six-hour race on Sunday. Toyota is hoping to win for the sixth time in as many races this season and carry on its winning streak at home.

Porsche Penske finished third and fourth on the grid after putting out its best qualifying effort of the year. The #6 of Kevin Estre was the faster of the two 963 LMDh-spec prototypes, and he came within nine tenths of the pole with a time of 1:28.687. In the #5, Fred Makowiecki set a time of 1:28.717.

Alex Lynn rounded out the top-five in the No. 2 Chip Ganassi Racing-run Cadillac, which held provisional pole early in the running.

Ferrari finished sixth and seventh on the grid, behind the Cadillac Racing V-Series.R, marking a challenging session for Toyota’s major title rivals. As a result, both LMH 499Ps recorded speeds that were slower than those of all three factory LMDh cars.

The Le Mans-winning #51 was the quicker of the two and was over a second slower than the leading Toyota after James Calado’s 1:28.991.

Antonio Felix Da Costa was eighth in the No. 38 Hertz Team JOTA Porsche ahead of the No. 99 Proton Competition Porsche which was qualified by Gianmaria Bruni.

It was also a poor run for Peugeot 9X8s, which had previous experience in this venue following the team’s inaugural WEC season last year. They could only finish 10th and 11th after finding it nearly impossible to perform adequately altogether in the challenging conditions.

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Phil Hanson’s effort in LMP2 for United Autosports and its #22 ORECA earned the team the class pole. Additionally, this was his first pole in the WEC.

Louis Deletraz, driving for WRT, had to settle for second place on the grid after the Briton improved his best performance by less than a tenth.

Oliver Jarvis’ time of 1:32.453 to place the #23 third added to United Autosports’ impressive performance. Fourth place went to JOTA’s ORECA, and fifth place went to the Le Mans-winning #34 Inter Europol entry.

In the #33 championship-winning Corvette Racing C8.R, Ben Keating secured his third GTE Am pole position of the 2023 season with a 1:38.338 with little over four minutes left in the first of the three sessions.

Multiple cars temporarily held the provisional pole position during Am Qualifying, but as drivers became accustomed to the grip levels on the slippery track, times rapidly improved for all entrants.

However, Keating would once more seize the lead with a lap that seemed to come out of practically nothing, especially considering that Corvette hadn’t set any time during practice.

Just 0.035 seconds faster than Sarah Bovy with the Iron Dames’ best lap time, the performance was good enough for provisional pole position for a brief period of time prior to the Texan’s fastest lap.

The #777 D’Station Racing and #98 Northwest AMR Aston Martins took the places on the second row behind the Corvette C8.R and Iron Dames Porsche, and the fastest Ferrari, the #21 from AF Corse, secured fifth on the grid after a great performance by Hiroshi Koizumi.

The start of tomorrow’s 6 Hours of Fuji is scheduled for 11:00 local time in Japan.

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