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Record-Breaking Alonso, Nakajima Take Sebring Pole

Toyota locks out front row for 1000 Miles of Sebring as Alonso sets lap record…

Photo: Toyota

Fernando Alonso set a new Sebring lap record as he and Kazuki Nakajima combined to put the No. 8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid on pole for the FIA World Endurance Championship’s 1000-mile race tomorrow.

Despite not breaking the 100-second barrier, Toyota still smashed the Sebring qualifying lap record with Alonso’s time of 1:40.124 eclipsing Marcel Fassler’s 2013 benchmark in an Audi R18 e-tron quattro by almost four seconds.

Alonso also broke the all-time speed record of the Florida circuit, as well as the outright lap record which his teammate Jose Maria Lopez held from third practice.

The previous best outright lap before this event was a 1:43.274 set by Sebastien Bourdais in a Peugeot 908 HDi FAP during the Sebring 12-hour race a decade ago.

The No. 8 Toyota Gazoo Racing pair notched up their car’s fourth pole of the 2018-19 season with a two-driver average time of 1:40.142 to take pole from the sister No. 7 crew of Lopez and Mike Conway by half a second.

Alonso out-lapped Conway by almost a second during the first driver segment before Nakajima and Lopez cancelled each other out with similar times, giving the pole to the No. 8 entry.

Lopez went off-track in his attempts to claw back some of the deficit which left the Argentinian tight for time at the end of the session.

SMP Racing’s No. 17 BR Engineering BR1 AER qualified third ahead of the No. 3 Rebellion Racing R-13 Gibson.

Egor Orudzhev and Stephane Sarrazin produced an average time of 1:42.730 – highlighted by Orudzhev’s sub 1-minute 42 second lap – which was enough to edge out Gustavo Menezes and Thomas Laurent by a tenth.

The SMP crew’s two-driver number was 2.412 seconds off the pace set by Alonso and Nakajima at the front.

In fifth was the No. 11 SMP Racing BR1 qualified by Brendon Hartley and Mikhail Aleshin, ahead of the No. 1 Rebellion and the No. 10 DragonSpeed BR1 Gibson.

LMP2 pole position went to Jackie Chan DC Racing as the Jota-run squad claimed a lockout of the class front row.

Gabriel Aubry and Stephane Richelmi led the way with their average time of 1:44.288 that put them six tenths up on the identical No. 37 car of David Heinemeier Hansson and Will Stevens.

Signatech Alpine will start third ahead of DragonSpeed’s Oreca, while Larbre Competition rounded out the top five with its Ligier JS P217 Gibson.

The 1000 Miles of Sebring gets underway Friday at 4 p.m. EST.

RESULTS: Qualifying

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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