“Thanks to the team for preparing such a fast car today and to my team-mates for letting me have all the fun. There is also some pressure, particularly on the last lap. I had traffic on my penultimate lap so it was all on the last one and it felt amazing to cross the line and see the result.”
Kobayashi acknowledged Hartley’s “great lap” but said that he was looking to be driving the leading Toyota by Sunday afternoon. “I tried my best but I had some traffic and couldn’t manage. That’s how it goes in qualifying.
“I’m pleased that Toyota is one-two on the grid; it’s a good starting position for the 24 hours and we are quite confident in our race performance. It was close with the other Hypercars so I’m looking forward to an exciting fight. The race is long and reliability is the most important thing. Our target is to win.”
The Glickenhaus pair of Ryan Briscoe and Olivier Pla were 1.43 and 1.95sec adrift of the Toyotas, ahead of the fastest LMP2 car: Robin Frijns in the WRT Oreca with a 3min 28.394sec lap.
Norman Nato in the sister WRT was initially classified behind him but became one of the many drivers to have lap times deleted for exceeding track limits. Instead, Filipe Albuquerque’s lap in the No41 United Autosports car will line up in seventh, qualifying 1.6sec adrift of Frijns.
Nick Tandy heads the GTE Pro class for Corvette Racing, his 3min 49.985sec lap was 0.2sec faster than the sister car and the pair of Porsche 911s, leaving Ferrari bringing up the rear.
The Ferraris were fastest of the GTE Am field, however: Vincent Abril’s 3min 52.594sec lap made him fastest in the category for AF Corse.