Final Session Improvements Give Toyota Fourth And Fifth


The #7 car was pushed back to fifth by Sarrazin's late improvement (Credit: Toyota Racing)

The two Toyota TS030 Hybrid will start the 24 Hours of Le Mans from fourth and fifth after Stephane Sarrazin improved the #8 car’s qualifying time in the third and final qualifying session for the 90th anniversary running of the race.

The #8 car was laying in sixth place, separated from its teammate by the best of the Rebellion Racing Lolas, after Thursday’s opening session and the first of Friday’s session, which was conducted in wet weather limiting lap times.

The final session – extended by half an hour due to the number of stoppages in previous sessions – began on a wet track, but one that began to dry as the session continued. The session was interrupted by a pair of red flags for incidents on the Mulsanne Straight.

However, with red flags life the final laps of the session were run on a dry track Sarrazin was able to move up to fifth, then go quicker than the sister Toyota to claim fourth on the grid for the race (2pm Saturday June 22) with a lap of 3:26.654, just 0.022 seconds quicker than the best lap of #7 car, set on Thursday.

“We are fourth on the grid and even after the issue yesterday the car felt really good, so it has been a satisfying day,” said Sarrazin, who shares driving duties in the #8 car with Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi. “It was fun to finally have some dry track time at the end and it’s nice to improve our grid position. But the priority has always been the race and we have a really good race balance. All of us feel comfortable with the car and the set-up we have defined for the race. It’s a long race and we’ll give everything we have.”

“The car showed more potential than yesterday and I think we have a more competitive package so we are happy with what we achieved,” said Nicolas Lapierre. “On the #7 we focused on long runs and working for the race, which is more important than qualifying. Anyway fourth and fifth was the best we could achieve. Now we will see where we are with tyre management and fuel consumption. I am quite excited about Saturday and can’t wait for the race.”