Toyota Hybrid Racing team president Yoshiaki Kinoshita heralded Kazuki Nakajima’s pole position for the Six Hours of Fuji as a “fantastic result”. The Japanese driver beat Audi’s Benoit Treluyer and Tom Kristensen to claim the second pole of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) season for Toyota.
“We are so happy to be on pole position for our home race,” said Kinoshita. “Our Toyota Hybrid System – Racing was born very close to Fuji Speedway so we are delighted to deliver this result in front of our colleagues from Higashi-Fuji Technical Centre and under the shadow of beautiful Mount Fuji. We are all happy to see Kazuki back in the team and he did an incredible job; it was a really quick lap and he thoroughly deserves this pole position. I am very proud we could deliver such a strong result but we must remember this is only qualifying; our main target is to win the race tomorrow. We have made the best possible start and now we have to complete the job.”
Nakajima was given qualifying duties in the #7 TS030 Hybrid on his return to the team after missing the rounds in Brazil and Bahrain racing in the Formula Nippon series in Japan.
He needed just two flying laps before setting what would be the lap to claim position, lapping the 4.6km Fuji Speedway circuit in 1:27.499, beating Treluyer’s best time by 0.140 seconds to force the WEC championship leaders into second place on the grid.
“I am really happy to get this pole position at Fuji Speedway,” said Nakajima. “It means a lot to me and the team. It was cool to see the reaction of everyone in the garage at the end of the session because we had big support and also big expectations as this is our home country, our home track. We saw this morning that the car was quick enough to fight for pole position and, even though I had a bit of traffic at the start of qualifying, I managed to get a clean lap. It is a good achievement but it is still Saturday; the race means a lot more than qualifying. It will be a tricky race, particularly because it is difficult to cope with traffic in the last sector. So we will have to be careful and make no mistakes. Our aim is to win the race; we will push hard.”
With co-drivers Alex Wurz and Nicolas Lapierre Nakajima will be hoping to find the pace that gave Toyota a first win at Interlagos and bounce back from a DNF at the most recent round of the championship in Bahrain.