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Kobayashi Tops Qualifying, Hyperpole Places Determined

Kobayashi fastest in rainy, red-flag interrupted qualifying session at Le Mans…

Photo: MPS Agency

Kamui Kobayashi has set the fastest time in Wednesday qualifying for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, while the contenders for Hyperpole in each of the classes were set during a session that was hit by rain in the second half.

Kobayashi reeled off a 3:27.247 behind the wheel of the No. 7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid to go quickest in the hour-long session.

All five Hypercars are already guaranteed a spot in Hyperpole, but the Japanese driver nevertheless outpaced the the No. 708 Glickenhaus 007 Pipo of Romain Dumas by 0.108s.

Ryan Briscoe’s No. 709 Glickenhaus was third, with Nicolas Lapierre fourth for Alpine.

Brendon Hartley’s No. 8 Toyota was unable to set a competitive time after it spent the first portion of the session in the garage to have a right rear issue addressed.

Once Hartley went out, his running was interrupted by a red flag due to a crash for the No. 93 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR-19 of Michael Fassbender.

After the session then resumed, only a handful of drivers were able to post improved laptimes until it began raining.

In all other three classes, the top six drivers in class secured a spot in Hyperpole. 

In LMP2, Robin Frijns led the way behind the wheel of the No. 31 Team WRT Oreca 07 Gibson with a lap of 3:29.898.

JOTA’s Antonio Felix da Costa was second, with the other Hyperpole spots occupied by Norman Nato, the two United Autosports entries of Alex Lynn and Filipe Albuquerque and Prema’s Louis Deletraz.

Charles Milesi just missed out on the top six for Richard Mille Racing Team, with Panis Racing, Team Penske and the third WRT entry driven by Mirko Bortolotti failing to make the cut.

Two LMP2 cars were not out on track during the session and will therefore be condemned to start the race from the back.

Vector Sport encountered an engine issue and were unable to take part, while Algarve Pro Racing’s No. 45 car not out on track after a practice crash for Steven Thomas resulted in chassis damage.

GTE-Pro saw the six factory-entered cars occupying the top six, with Riley Motorsports eliminated.

Laurens Vanthoor was fastest in the No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR-19 with a best lap of 3:50.999, which was 0.133 seconds faster than the No. 63 Corvette C8.R of Antonio Garcia.

Fred Makowiecki was third in the sister Porsche, with Nick Tandy fourth ahead of the two AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evos of James Calado and Antonio Fuoco.

Nicki Thiim topped the GTE-Am class for Northwest AMR, with Kessel Racing and the No. 54 AF Corse Ferrari of Nick Cassidy.

Rahel Frey secured a Hyperpole spot for the No. 85 Iron Dames Ferrari along with Dempsey-Proton Racing’s Harry Tincknell as Vincent Abril secured the final spot in the No. 61 AF Corse Ferrari.

Ben Barker’s No. 86 GR Racing Porsche lost out to Abril by 0.007 seconds, with Team Project 1’s two cars also missing the cut.

Julien Andlauer, who secured Hyperpole in the class last year, was also left out of the top six in tenth position.

Cars return to the track for night practice at 10 p.m. local time (4 p.m. ET).

RESULTS: Qualifying

Davey Euwema is a Sportscar365 reporter based in The Netherlands, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, DTM, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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