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Toyota, Aston Martin Take 6H Fuji Poles

Kobayashi, Lopez claim Fuji pole for Toyota; new Aston breaks through in GTE-Pro…

Photo: Toyota

Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez gave Toyota Gazoo Racing its fourth consecutive FIA World Endurance Championship pole position at Fuji Speedway.

The No. 7 Toyota pair benefited from a lap time deletion for Sebastien Buemi in the sister car, which settled for second, as the Japanese manufacturer locked out the front row of the grid on home soil.

Buemi and Fernando Alonso initially went 0.006 faster than their team-mates over the two-driver average but the Swiss driver was penalized for exceeding track limits at the penultimate corner.

This meant Buemi needed to complete a further flying lap but his final effort was slower than before, meaning the No. 7 car qualified on pole by 0.091 seconds.

The result marks Toyota’s fourth straight qualifying 1-2 in the WEC this season.

Rebellion Racing won the battle of the non-hybrid LMP1 entries with Andre Lotterer and Neel Jani qualifying eight tenths off pole, which is the closest the privateers have been to the Toyota TS050 Hybrids this season.

Thomas Laurent and Gustavo Menezes lapped fourth-quickest despite a spin at the hairpin for Laurent, while Egor Orudzhev and Stephane Sarrazin were 0.211 seconds further back in the best of the SMP Racing BR Engineering BR1 AERs.

Jenson Button and Vitaly Petrov qualified sixth, while the ByKolles Racing ENSO CLM P1/01 Nismo will start Sunday’s race from seventh.

LMP2 pole position went to DragonSpeed for the first time this season as Anthony Davidson and Roberto Gonzalez teamed up for the best pro-am average.

The pair registered a 1:28.906 in the No. 31 Oreca 07 Gibson which was enough to beat both Jackie Chan DC Racing Orecas by three tenths.

Photo: Aston Martin Racing

First Pole for New Aston Martin Vantage GTE

Aston Martin Racing’s new-generation Vantage GTE notched up its maiden pole position as Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen posted the quickest joint time in GTE-Pro.

The all-Danish pairing led most of the session in the No. 97 Aston, with their average of 1:36.093 beating the second-placed No. 82 BMW M8 GTE of Tom Blomqvist and Antonio Felix da Costa by two tenths.

Aston Martin’s sister car qualified third, while the No. 67 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT slotted into fourth ahead of the quickest AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE.

The new Vantage, which made its debut at the start of this season, has yet to finish on the GTE-Pro podium but recorded its best result of fourth last time out at Silverstone.

In GTE-Am, Matteo Cairoli and WEC debutant Satoshi Hoshino took the No. 88 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR to its second pole of the season with a 1:38.336 average.

They finished marginally ahead of the old-generation Aston Martin Vantage driven by Pedro Lamy and Paul Dalla Lana, while Matt Campbell and Christian Ried took third in the other Proton Porsche.

Campbell set the fastest lap of the session –  and a new lap record – but Ried’s effort was slower by a greater margin than those of fellow Am drivers Dalla Lana and Hoshino.

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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