Toyota has shown the first blood in the new-look LMP1 class, with the Japanese manufacturer claiming pole for Sunday’s FIA WEC Six Hours of Silverstone.
A late flyer by Kazuki Nakajima put the No. 7 Toyota TS040 Hybrid on the top spot, thanks to Nakajima and co-driver’s Alex Wurz’s four-lap average of 1:42.774 in the intense 25-minute prototype qualifying session.
The Toyota’s average time narrowly edged out the No. 1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro, qualified by Tom Kristensen and Loic Duval, by just 0.005 seconds.
Romain Dumas and Neel Jani combining to put the No. 14 Porsche 919 Hybrid third on the grid, resulting in a car from each of the LMP1-H factory teams in the top-three for the highly anticipated season opener.
It was an unexpected pole for the TS040 Hybrid, which had not topped the time charts in any of the practice sessions this weekend. Wurz and Nakajima will share the pole-winning Toyota with Stephane Sarrazin on Sunday.
Defending FIA WEC champion Kristensen set the session’s quickest time of 1:42.477, but it wasn’t enough for the top spot, in the ultra-close session. The quickest of the Porsches was just three-tenths back.
The No. 2 Audi, qualified by Benoit Treluyer and Andre Lotter was fourth, with the No. 8 Toyota of Anthony Davidson and Nicolas Lapierre completing the top-five overall and in class.
Remarkably, Rebellion Racing’s Lola B12/60 Toyotas came within 1.5 seconds of the pole-sitting Toyota, with the No. 13 entry of Fabio Leimer and Dominik Kraihamer edging out the Mathias Beche and Nick Heidfeld entry for LMP1-L class pole.
LMP2 class pole honors went to the G-Drive Racing duo of Olivier Pla and Roman Rusinov, who combined for a 1:49.156 average in their No. 26 Morgan-Nissan.
The duo, who will share the wheel of their OAK Racing-run entry with Julien Canal on Sunday, was 0.283 seconds ahead of the No. 47 KCMG Oreca 03 Nissan of Richard Bradley and Tsigo Matsuda in second.
Both of the SMP Racing Oreca-Nissans struggled in qualifying, with combined times that were more than two seconds off the class pole-sitting Morgan.
The Six Hours of Silverstone takes the green Sunday at 12 p.m. local (7 a.m. ET).