TOYOTA GAZOO Racing took pole position for the 6 Hours of Shanghai in qualifying for the penultimate round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) in China today.
The #7 TS050 HYBRID of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López had been fastest in all three practice sessions and kept up the pace in qualifying, earning their fourth pole of the season by 0.440secs.
Sébastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima will start tomorrow’s race from third position after a more challenging qualifying session in the #8 TS050 HYBRID.
Mike and Sébastien began qualifying in their respective cars and played a patient game, allowing the rest of the LMP1 and LMP2 field to start their attempts before leaving the pits clear of the traffic.
Mike immediately put the #7 in contention for pole position but Sébastien’s lap was compromised when a settings issue meant his car did not deliver full hybrid boost at the beginning of the lap.
Anthony took the wheel of the #8 on new tyres for his first action of the day, having been unable to drive in final practice when the session was prematurely ended due to kerb damage. He set a time marginally faster than Sébastien’s but it was not enough to earn a front-row start.
Kamui had his eyes on top spot and, on fresh tyres for his one flying lap, he delivered another pole position to earn one additional World Championship point, setting the fastest LMP1 lap time at Shanghai International Circuit in the process.
Both TS050 HYBRIDs will start tomorrow’s six-hour race, the eighth of the season, looking for the team’s fourth win this year, and third in Shanghai following victories in 2012 and 2014.
TS050 HYBRID #7 (Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, José María López)
Free practice 3: 1st (1min 44.888secs), 18 laps
Qualifying: 1st (1min 42.832secs average)
Mike Conway (TS050 HYBRID #7): “We have topped every session so far this weekend so I’m really happy. My lap was okay but I felt I could have been a little quicker because there was a lot of grip. I was expecting Kamui to go quicker and he did. It’s a great start; hopefully we can stay at the front through the race.”
Kamui Kobayashi (TS050 HYBRID #7): “I’m really pleased even if the lap itself wasn’t perfect. I didn’t try new tyres before qualifying so it was tricky to adjust. But overall the car was really good and I was 100% confident in it. We have been strong all week; the team has done a great job so far.”
TS050 HYBRID #8 (Sébastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson, Kazuki Nakajima)
Free practice 3: 2nd (1min 45.166secs), 19 laps
Qualifying: 3rd (1min 43.445secs average)
Sébastien Buemi (TS050 HYBRID #8): “I am disappointed because I know we could do better. I didn’t have the full hybrid boost coming out of the last corner at the start of my lap. I did all I could and congratulations to car #7 because they have done an amazing job. Let’s see what we can do in the race.”
Anthony Davidson (TS050 HYBRID #8): “I’m a little disappointed with third because we had the potential to do more. We made a big set-up change after second practice but, due to the red flag this morning, I didn’t do any laps before qualifying so it wasn’t easy. It was an amazing lap by Kamui and it’s good to see one of our cars on pole position.”
|Free Practice 3|
|1st||#7 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing||1min 44.888secs||18 laps|
|2nd||#8 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing||+0.278secs||19 laps|
|3rd||#2 Porsche (Bernhard/Bamber/Hartley)||+0.641secs||6 laps|
|4th||#1 Porsche (Jani/Lotterer/Tandy)||+1.335secs||19 laps|
|5th||#26 G-Drive (Rusinov/Roussel/Müller)||+5.274secs||16 laps|
|6th||#31 Rebellion (Canal/Prost/Senna)||+5.307secs||16 laps|
|1st||#7 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing||1min 42.832secs|
|2nd||#1 Porsche (Jani/Lotterer/Tandy)||+0.440secs|
|3rd||#8 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing||+0.613secs|
|4th||#2 Porsche (Bernhard/Bamber/Hartley)||+0.665secs|
|5th||#31 Rebellion (Canal/Prost/Senna)||+6.385secs|
|6th||#26 G-Drive (Rusinov/Roussel/Müller)||+6.640secs|