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Toyota Locks Out Spa Front Row; Ford Claims GTE-Pro Pole

Toyota’s No. 7 crew scores its third pole of the season; Ford on top in GTE-Pro…

Photo: Toyota

Toyota Gazoo Racing locked out the front row of the grid for the penultimate round of the 2018-19 FIA World Endurance Championship at Spa-Francorchamps.

Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi sealed the No. 7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid’s third pole of the campaign with a two-driver average time of 1:53.747 under light rain.

Their teammates in the No. 8 Toyota, Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi, combined for a 1:54.243 average to go second-quickest and just under half a second shy of pole.

SMP Racing beat Rebellion Racing in the battle for the third-place grid spot, with Egor Orudzhev and Sergey Sirotkin teaming up for a time of 1:54.711 that put their No. 17 BR Engineering BR1 AER less than a second off the overall benchmark.

This time would have been enough for pole in the 2018 edition of the Six Hours of Spa that opened the 2018-19 ‘Super Season’.

In fourth were Thomas Laurent and Gustavo Menezes, in front of SMP’s second pairing of Stoffel Vandoorne and Vitaly Petrov.

Qualifying was interrupted by a red flag after ByKolles Racing’s ENSO CLM P1/01 ground to a halt on the start-finish straight.

The No. 4 ENSO CLM P1/01, which is racing with a Gibson V8 engine for the first time this weekend, placed 12th overall.

Quickest in LMP2 was the No. 26 G-Drive Racing Aurus 01 Gibson which turned in a time of 2:00.674 in the hands of Jean-Eric Vergne and WEC debutant Job van Uitert.

The two Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 07 Gibsons will start second and third, ahead of the Oreca entered by DragonSpeed.

No. 67 Ford Grabs Second Spa Pole

Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell claimed their second consecutive Spa-Francorchamps GTE-Pro pole with the No. 67 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT.

Priaulx was outside the top three after the first set of runs but returned to the wheel after Tincknell had posted his best time of 2:12.973.

Equipped with fresh tires, Priaulx went on to shave down the pair’s average to 2:12.885, which knocked the No. 97 Aston Martin Vantage GTE of Maxime Martin and Alex Lynn off the top spot by less than a tenth.

BMW Team MTEK locked out the second row of the grid with its pair of M8 GTEs out-pacing the second Aston Martin and the two Porsche 911 RSRs.

Ferrari propped up the class order with its two 488 GTE Evos qualifying ninth and tenth respectively.

In GTE-Am, TF Sport claimed its first-ever WEC pole after a late flying lap from Salih Yoluc put the Turkish driver quickest amongst the bronze-rated competitors.

Coupled with Charlie Eastwood’s banker time, the TF Sport Aston ended up with an average of 2:16.061, which eclipsed the 2:16.171 set by Matteo Cairoli and Gianluca Roda in the No. 88 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche.

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

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