Kamui Kobayashi once again stamped his mark as legend of the Circuit de la Sarthe as he snatched pole position for Toyota ahead of the 2021 Le Mans 24 Hours.

The Japanese driver has been a class act around the 14km circuit in recent years and came into the twilight Hyperpole session having taken Toyota to pole position in three of the last four years.

It was a record he’d go on to maintain as Toyota proved they were sandbagging somewhat in free practice, with Kobayashi’s first lap of 3m 23secs in the #7 GR010 Hybrid some three seconds quicker than anyone had managed earlier in the week.

Getting the lap in just before the session was red flagged to clear the stricken Porsche of Kevin Estre, which crashed at Indianapolis, on the resumption of action afterwards he nibbled it down again to 3m 23.900secs.

Kobayashi was destined to go faster still afterwards, but with Brendon Hartley in the #8 GR010 Hybrid falling 0.295secs, he would instead pit with regulators now likely to look closely at Toyota’s balance of performance now it has seen its genuine pace over rivals Alpine and Glickenhaus.

Indeed, Alpine had looked capable of challenging Toyota for pole after a strong show in qualifying, but could only get to within 1.5secs of the pole-winning time.

After struggling with technical issues in FP3, Glickenhaus looked more impressive in qualifying trim with a rapid final effort from Olivier Pla in the #708 car only just missing out on upsetting the Alpine by less than a tenth of a second, while the #709 was also only a second back despite missing a chunk of track time.

In LMP2, Antonio Felix da Costa put in a starring performance ot secure pole position for Jota, seeing off the threat from two impressive Le Mans debutants in Team WRT (Louis Deletraz) and Panis Racing (Will Stevens), the latter owned by ex-F1 driver Olivier Panis.

Favourites together with Jota, the #26 G-Drive and #32 United Autosports cars will get underway from fourth and fifth.

Having set the pace in GTE Pro in the run up to Hyperpole, Estre’s early exit opened the door for a surprise pole-winning performance by the Taipei-flagged Hub Auto Porsche team, who had Dries Vanthoor to thank for upsetting the factory runners.

Daniel Serra put the AF Corse Ferrari second on the grid, ahead of the intriguing Corvette, which - having looked off the pace all week - hinted that it too had been holding back through fear of a balance of performance adjustment ahead of the race, with Nick Tandy impressing in third.

In GTE Am, Julien Andlauer maintained Proton-Dempsey Porsche’s impressive form for pole, but only just ahead of the GR Racing Porsche driven by Ben Barker.