Nakajima Summits Fuji WEC Qualifying For Toyota

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Having set a blinding pace in the final free practice session Kazuki Nakajima was man nominated for qualifying duties in the Toyota TS030 Hybrid and the Japanese responded by giving the brand pole position for their home race in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).

Nakajima, who also set the fastest lap in the first free practice session of Friday, was running against Benoit Treluyer and Tom Kristensen in the pair of Audi R18 e-tron quattro for the 20 minute LMP qualifying session for the Six Hours of Fuji.

With all three of the works backed hybrids taking to the track for the start of the session – though some distance apart around the 4.6km circuit – it was championship leader Treluyer who took provisional pole position after the opening flying laps, easily outpacing Kristensen in the sister Audi.

With his first two laps Treluyer had pole position with a 1:27.639 – by far the fastest lap of the weekend up to that point. However, his tenure at the top only lasted two minutes Nakajima plucking a 1:27.499 seemingly from nowhere after a first flying lap a second slower and before two subsequent laps in the 1:27.8 bracket.

Kristensen was quite separate from those deciding pole position, taking third place but 0.871 seconds behind Nakajima’s pole time.

There was further success for Toyota in fourth place, Neel Jani claiming a potentially crucial pole among the LMP1 privateers in the Rebellion Racing Toyota powered Lola he shares with Nicolas Prost. Danny Watts was two-tenths slower for Strakka Racing, but with such a result – Rebellion ahead of Strakka – at the end of six hours the Swiss team will take the LMP1 teams’ title before the final race of the season.

There was a similar margin between the top two in LMP2 as Starworks Motorsports and Stephane Sarrazin added another bonus point for pole position to their points account and to their lead in the class championship. Sarrazin scored Starworks’ fourth pole consecutive WEC pole position, beating John Martin – twice a pole sitter this year – by 0.181 seconds.

Both men set their fastest laps at the end of the stints on the session, Martin briefly holding provisional pole before former Peugeot driver Sarrazin stole the best time with little more than a minute of the session remaining.

Tonio Liuzzi again proved his worth in sportscars for the Lotus team, putting the #32 car third fastest with Nelson Panciatici and Nicolas Minassian rounding out the top five for Signatech Nissan and Pecom Racing respectively.

Despite the car leading all three free practices Marc Lieb’s LMGTE Pro pole position for Team FelbermayrProton was still surprising against normally unbeatable AF Corse Ferraris. Gimmi Bruni was the best of the 458, lining up second in class, Andrea Bertolini will start fourth in the sister Ferrari behind the Stefan Mucke qualified Aston Martin Racing Vantage.

JeanPhillipe Belloc was the only man on track in the earliest moments of the GTE qualifying session, but he used the clear track to take an unassailable pole position in the Am sub-class for Larbre Competition. Michele Rugolo and Paolo Ruberti were unable to match his pace and  so will start second and third in class.

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James is our Diet-Coke fuelled writer and has been with TCF pretty much since day 1, he can be found frequenting twitter at @_JBroomhead
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