Full 2018 Le Mans 24 Hours qualifying results

Toyota Gazoo Racing extended its advantage over its rivals as it stormed to a one-two finish in final qualifying for the 24 Hours of Le Mans on Thursday night, with Fernando Alonso, Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi set to start the race from pole position.

The #8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid crew headed into the final stage of qualifying with a 0.1 second advantage over the team's sister #7 car, only for Nakajima to pull out a stunning lap early in Q3 that stretched the gap out to exactly two seconds.

Nakajima’s time of 3m15.377s was less than six-tenths of a second shy of Kamui Kobayashi’s lap record set in last year’s qualifying session, leaving the #8 Toyota over four seconds ahead of the leading privateer non-hybrid car in the LMP1 class.

The result marks Toyota’s fourth pole position at Le Mans and a first for Nakajima, Buemi and two-time Formula 1 world champion Alonso, the last of whom will make his debut in the twice-around-the-clock endurance classic on Saturday.

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After seeing Nakajima and Buemi share running through the first two hours of the session, Alonso managed to get out with light rain falling in the final hour, getting more laps under his belt ahead of the race.  

2017 pole-sitters Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez were left to settle for second for the start as they failed to improve their time from Q1 on Wednesday. Kobayashi made a mistake early in Q3 on a hot lap, costing him his best chance to challenge Nakajima’s time.

Rebellion Racing finished as the leading non-hybrid LMP1 team as it took P3 and P5. Despite efforts to create competition between the hybrid Toyotas and non-hybrid cars, Neel Jani’s fastest lap in the #1 Rebellion R13 Gibson was 4.072 seconds slower than Nakajima’s effort, with the sister #3 Rebellion finishing a further half a second back.

SMP Racing’s pair of LMP1 cars will start the race P4 and P7 respectively, the latter including Jenson Button. With the #3 Rebellion in fifth, DragonSpeed’s #10 BR Engineering BR1 Gibson also splits the Russian-entered cars in sixth place, with ByKolles taking eighth place in class.

The Manor-Ginetta cars managed to recover from a difficult start to qualifying to get one of its cars ahead of all of the LMP2 runners as the #6 Ginetta G-60-LT-P1 finished ninth overall, with the sister #5 Ginetta being demoted to P14 after failing to go to scrutineering when requested during the session.

A similiar fate befell TDS Racing's #28 Oreca 07 Gibson, which was stripped of LMP2 pole position after Loic Duval's lap time was deleted for the same offence. As a result, IDEC Sport's Paul-Loup Chatin took pole with a new class record lap time of 3m24.842s, having originally fallen 0.016 seconds short. F1 alumni Pastor Maldonado and Jean-Eric Vergne will start P2 and P3 in class for DragonSpeed and G-Drive Racing respectively after both improving their times through Q3.

Gianmaria Bruni’s lap time of 3m47.504s from Wednesday remained good enough to give Porsche pole position in GTE-Pro. Despite crashing just moments after crossing the line in the #91 Porsche 911 RSR, Bruni’s effort was still a full 1.5 seconds faster than the next-best time in the class, set by the sister #92 Porsche running in pink colours.

Ford Chip Ganassi Racing will start the race third in the GTE-Pro class with the #66 Ford GT, while Alessandro Pier Guidi was able to lift AF Corse up to P4 in the #51 Ferrari 488 GTE.

In GTE-Am, Matteo Cairoli took pole position for Dempsey-Proton Racing in the #88 Porsche, with his Q1 effort of 3m50.728s being enough for P1 by six-tenths of a second ahead of the #86 Gulf Racing UK entry. The second Dempsey car took third in class, finishing 1.2 seconds off the pole-sitter.

The 86th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans will begin at 3pm local time on Saturday.

 

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