A last gasp effort by Sebastien Buemi was rewarded with pole for Toyota on home soil for Sunday’s FIA WEC Six Hours of Fuji.
The action-packed prototype qualifying session saw the No. 8 Toyota TS040 Hybrid atop the time charts early, thanks to co-driver Anthony Davidson but a red flag with seven minutes to go halted Buemi’s chance of a quick lap.
Instead, the No. 20 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Mark Webber held provisional pole, with Buemi reeling off a 1:27.173 with less than two minutes remaining to go to the top of the time charts.
Buemi and Davidson’s best four-lap average of 1:26.886 edged out the No. 20 Porsche duo of Webber and Timo Bernhard by 0.043 seconds, giving the Japanese manufacturer a crucial pole position.
It marked the duo’s second consecutive pole and Toyota’s fourth of the season.
The No. 14 Porsche, qualified by Neel Jani and Marc Lieb will roll off third overall and in the LMP1-H class, followed by the No. 7 Toyota in fourth, which failed to improve on its times set prior to the red.
Both of the Audi R18 e-tron quattros struggled in the 25-minute session, qualifying fifth and sixth, respectively, and more than one-second adrift.
LMP1-L pole honors went to the No. 12 Rebellion R-One Toyota of Nick Heidfeld and Mathias Beche, despite Beche momentarily stopping on track with an electrical issue.
A separate issue for the sister Rebellion entry, driven by Fabio Leimer, meanwhile, brought out the red flag, which set up a seven-minute shootout for the pole.
Heidfeld and Beche’s 1:31.751 average was nearly five seconds slower than the LMP1-H pole-sitting Toyota.
G-Drive Racing claimed its second consecutive pole in LMP2, with Olivier Pla and Roman Rusinov combining for a 1:33.062 average in their Ligier JS P2 Nissan.
However, the OAK Racing-run entry will start from fourth on the grid tomorrow after receiving a three-position grid penalty due to Rusinov improving his sector time during a full-course yellow in Friday’s Free Practice.
The sister No. 35 OAK Morgan-Judd of Alex Brundle and Gustavo Yacaman qualified second and will lead the LMP2 field to the green as a result, ahead of the COTA class-winning No. 47 KCMG Oreca 03 Nissan, which completed the top-three in qualifying.
The FIA WEC Six Hours of Fuji takes the green Sunday at 11 a.m. local (Saturday, 10 p.m. ET).