Toyota produced an impressive performance in qualifying for the Le Mans 24 Hours after both cars secured top five slots on the grid at the Circuit de la Sarthe.
While the second day of qualifying didn't pass without incident, with both cars suffering electrical glitches and having excursions off track, the team was able to take third and fifth on the grid for what will be the debut race for the all-new TS030 HYBRID.
Anthony Davidson led the way in the #8 car he will share with Stephane Sarrazin and Sebastien Buemi with a fine performance seeing him qualifying just over a second behind the quickest of the Audis.
While the race itself will be something of an unknown for the new Toyota, Davidson said he was pleased with the pace shown thus far by the car and was hoping to be able to challenge for a podium finish.
“After this qualifying session, I feel that we almost got everything possible from the car,” he said. “I did a good lap and I think we can be happy with what we achieved. I am still very new at the wheel of the TS030 HYBRID and I am going faster and faster; the car is nicely balanced and I feel comfortable with it.
“I am really looking forward to the race, to see what we can do; I hope we will have a reliable car. I think we surprised some people as we are so close to pole position and I actually still think that we have a stronger race car than a qualifying car. Le Mans is very a tough race but if we have no problems, if all is going well, we can be on the podium.”
Former Williams F1 racer Kazuki Nakajima set the benchmark time in the sister car he shares with Alex Wurz and Nicolas Lapierre to line up two places behind Davidson on the grid.
“It was a fantastic experience for me to have the chance to attack with the new tyres,” he said. “I was a good feeling and I really enjoyed it, apart from the traffic. But we knew the traffic would be less at the end because the others started to pit. Our strategy was really good; I only had one car to deal with in the last sector and I only lost a little time.
“It's great to see Anthony getting into the top three, as well as having both TS030 HYBRIDs in the top six for our very first race. I think we can have a good race tomorrow and hopefully we can finish it with no problems. Big thanks to the team because we got over some difficult times to get here. We had a bit of problem in between the qualifying sessions but we got back on the track and could compete hard with Audi. It was a big, big team effort.”