Toyota Gazoo Racing’s pair of TS050 HYBRIDs will start tomorrow’s FIA WEC 6 Hours of Silverstone from the front row, with the No. 7 taking the point for pole position after the efforts of Jose Maria Lopez and Mike Conway.
The duo’s combined time was a 1m36.895s, headlined by a 1m36.769s lap by local hero Conway. It helped put them four tenths faster than the sister No. 8 car, which was driven by Fernando Alonso and Kazuki Nakajima during the session.
Conway actually was surprised to have led the charge after spoiling his first flying lap. “Not the best start – tried to be a bit greedy on the start of the lap and had a big moment coming in to the last corner, so knew at that point I’d be down half a tenth or two,” he said. “And then in Turn 4 I had another moment, so at that point knew I had to abort and go again. Luckily the tires were still there. Jose jumped in and did a mega lap as well, which was pretty good given the used tires we didn’t change for new. Really pleased with the extra point as well – that all adds up.”
Lopez added: “Very happy to be on pole of course. It’s always hard in a six-hour race to be up front. A bit nervous when Mike couldn’t open the first lap, – new tires always make it a bit more difficult – but he managed to do a great lap and I knew when it was up to me that there was a very small gap and I had to keep the car up there.
“It’s great to start on pole, with a clear line at the start, but it’s a long race and we’ll see tomorrow.”
SMP Racing ended up as the fastest privateer team, its No. 11 BR1 set to start the race third after a strong showing from Jenson Button and Vitaly Petrov, who combined to set a 1m38.932s, two seconds off the top time. The No. 17 sister SMP BR1 ended up fourth, with a 1m39.070s.
Rebellion’s pair of R-13s were next, the No. 3 ahead of the No. 1, with DragonSpeed’s BR1 seventh.
LMP2 pole went to Jackie Chan DC Racing, which duplicated Toyota’s feat in locking out the front row in their respective class.
The fastest of the two was the No. 37 Malaysian-crewed car, Nabil Jeffri and Jazeman Jaafar the two drivers who took the wheel for the session. By the end, their time was a 1m44.896s, just a tenth faster than the team’s other ORECA 07.
Signatech Alpine’s A470 finished up third, ahead of the TDS Racing ORECA which will line up in the second slot of the second row.
The only incident of the LMP session came with five minutes to go, when Fritz Van Eerd went off at Copse, his No. 29 Racing Team Nederland Dallara ending up in the gravel trap after the Dutchman lost the back end. It caused a red flag and by that point, many of the teams had cycled through both drivers, including the two Toyotas, and didn’t go back out when the session restarted on a short call.
In GTE, Ford came out on top, with the No. 66 GT of Stefan Mucke and Olivier Pla taking pole with a 1m55.727s average, helped by both drivers managing laps within a tenth of one another during the GT session. It’s Ford’s second pole of the season.
“We did last-minute changes and it worked out perfectly” said Mucke. “It’s another point for the championship; we can’t wait for the race tomorrow. It’s very close – nobody knows what happens in a double stint with the tires, so we’re looking forward to it.”
Behind, Aston Martin Racing’s Vantage AMR showed a real flash of pace, slotting in second and third, the faster of the two (the No. 97) within a tenth of the pole time after Alex Lynn and Maxime Martin’s best efforts.
The No. 95 will start from third after Marco Sorensen and Nicki Thiim’s best efforts, the ‘Dane Train’ time a 1m56.103s, just three tenths off the No. 66 Ford. The British marque will hope that this form continues into tomorrow’s race.
Completing the top four was the No. 67 Ford of local hopefuls Harry Tincknell and Andy Priaulx, the pair just a tenth further adrift. Best of the rest was the Le Mans-winning No. 92 Porsche (not in its ‘Pink Pig’ colors this weekend), which could only a muster a time some seven tenths off class pole at 1m56.446s. The 911 RSR hasn’t been able to match Ford throughout the first two days of action.
The fastest Ferrari – the No. 71 – will start sixth in Pro, ahead of the quickest MTEK BMW – the No. 82 – which will line up seventh on the grid.
In GTE Am, it was a breakthrough pole for Team Project 1, the Porsche single-make specialist scoring its maiden pole in WEC competition after Jorg Bergmeister and Egidio Perfetti combined to set a 1m59.001s.
The Le Mans winners in the No. 77 Dempsey Proton Porsche will start second, ahead of the TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage.
UP NEXT: Tomorrow’s race is set to start at noon local time.