Toyota Gazoo Racing swept to a front-row lock-out for the 24 Hours of Le Mans as Kamui Kobayashi claimed his second pole position at the Circuit de la Sarthe in qualifying on Thursday night.

After taking provisional pole in Wednesday’s opening qualifying session, Kobayashi managed to improve his time in Q2 and hold on through the final night-time running to clinch top spot in the #7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid.

Kobayashi’s lap of 3m15.497s saw him beat the sister #8 Toyota crew led by Kazuki Nakajima by four-tenths of a second, with the Japanese manufacturer locking out the top two positions in qualifying for the third year running.

It marks Kobayashi’s second Le Mans pole following his record-breaking run in 2017, as well as clinching a bonus point for the World Endurance Championship standings alongside co-drivers Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez.

Fernando Alonso completed one stint in Q3 in the #8 Toyota, but traffic meant he could not make an assault on Kobayashi’s P1 time. The ex-Formula 1 driver will start the race P2 on Saturday alongside Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi.

Toyota was run closer than anticipated by SMP Racing, which finished as the leading non-hybrid LMP1 team in third place through the #17 BR Engineering BR1 AER car. Egor Orudzhev made the most of an empty track at the start of the session to lap just six-tenths of a second shy of Kobayashi’s pole time, narrowly failing to break up the Toyotas.

Gustavo Menezes also managed to qualify within a second of pole in the #3 Rebellion Racing entry to take P4 on the grid ahead of Stoffel Vandoorne in the sister SMP Racing car.

The second Rebellion qualified sixth, but ended qualifying early after a suspected engine failure that caused a red flag midway through the session

Tristan Gommendy led Graff to pole position in LMP2 after a flurry of improvements in Q3, ending Pastor Maldonado’s stint at the head of the timesheets.

Gommendy took pole in the #39 Oreca 07 Gibson by two-tenths of a second from TDS Racing’s Loic Duval, leaving Maldonado to settle for third in class in DragonSpeed’s #31 Oreca.

Aston Martin secured pole position in GTE-Pro after Marco Sorensen managed to edge clear of the field in the #95 Aston Martin Vantage, pipping Harry Tincknell in the #67 Ford GT by just one-tenth of a second after a late charge from the British driver.

Antonio Garcia took third place in class for Corvette ahead of Porsche’s Nick Tandy, while Augusto Farfus made it five manufacturers in the top five positions in the #82 BMW M8 GTE.

Dempsey-Proton Racing took a one-two GTE-Am with the #88 Porsche 911 RSR shared by Matteo Cairoli, Giorgio Roda and Satoshi Hoshino, leading the sister #77 Porsche by two-tenths of a second. Gulf Racing completed a customer Porsche sweep of the top three in GTE-Am with its #86 entry.

With no running taking place on Friday at Le Mans, the next on-track action will be warm-up on Saturday morning prior to the start of the 24-hour race at 3pm local time.

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