Toyota Gazoo Racing swept to a one-two finish during the first qualifying session for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with Fernando Alonso provisionally set to make his debut in the race from pole position.

With rain threatening to interrupt Q2 and Q3 on Thursday, the majority of teams chased their optimum lap time early in the opening qualifying session on Wednesday night in case conditions prevent them from going faster tomorrow.

Kazuki Nakajima got out early in Q1 and posted a fastest time of 3m17.270s to secure provisional pole for the #8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid with just his second lap of the session, beating the sister #7 Toyota by one-tenth of a second.

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With conditions getting cooler as night fell at Le Mans, neither Alonso nor Sebastien Buemi could match co-driver Nakajima’s lap time during their runs as they completed their required night-time allocation. As things stand, the trio will lead the field away for the start of the race on Saturday afternoon.

2017 pole-sitter and Le Mans lap record holder Kamui Kobayashi fell 0.107s shy of Nakajima’s time, leaving him to settle for P2 alongside Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez heading into Thursday’s running.

Despite running the Toyotas close in practice earlier in the day, the privateer non-hybrid LMP1 teams were unable to get in the fight at the very front in Q1 as they finished more than two seconds off the pace.

SMP Racing finished as the best of the rest with the #17 BR Engineering BR1 AER, led by Stephane Sarrazin, while Rebellion Racing followed in fourth and fifth via Gustavo Menezes and Andre Lotterer respectively.

DragonSpeed finished sixth in class despite suffering a stoppage with its #10 BR1 chassis with 50 minutes remaining in the session. The team managed to beat the second SMP Racing entry which finshed seventh, led by Mikhail Aleshin.

ByKolles had been due to start further up the grid, only for its fastest lap to be scratched due to excessive fuel consumption, leaving the team eighth overall. The team nevertheless fared better than Manor-Ginetta, who could only muster 11th and 23rd overall amid its ongoing struggles.

LMP2 saw IDEC Sport grab provisional class pole thanks to a fast lap from Paul-Loup Chatin, edging out TDS Racing’s Loic Duval by three-tenths of a second. G-Drive Racing took third in class with Jean-Eric Vergne, albeit further one second off the pace.

Porsche continued to enjoy an edge over the field in GTE-Pro as Gianmaria Bruni stormed to provisional pole in the #91 Porsche 911 RSR, but completed just one flying lap in the session. After crossing the line to finish his first flyer, Bruni spun off the track at the Dunlop Chicane, hitting the barrier and bringing the car’s session to an early end.

Bruni's time was nevertheless a full 1.5 seconds faster than the sister #92 Porsche in second place, with Ford Chip Ganassi Racing following in P3 and P4 with the #66 and #68 Ford GTs respectively.

Dempsey-Proton Racing took a one-two finish in GTE-Am, headed up by Matteo Cairoli in the #88 Porsche 911 RSR as he finished 1.2 seconds ahead of the #77 Porsche also entered by the team. Gulf Racing wound up third in class with the #86 Porsche, 1.8 seconds down on the class pole time.

Qualifying 2 takes place from 6pm until 8pm on Thursday before the third and final stage of qualifying that runs from 10pm until midnight.

2018 24 HOURS OF LE MANS - QUALIFYING 1 RESULTS

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