Toyota Gazoo Racing topped Porsche with two of its three cars in the first qualifying session at Circuit de la Sarthe for the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Kamui Kobayashi took provisional pole in the number No. 7 TS050 Hybrid with Kazuki Nakajima joining him on the provisional front row in the sister No. 8 car.
Kobayashi set, what turned out to be, the fastest time of the night early on in the shortened 1 hour 40-minute session, lapping the track in 3:18.793, less than a tenth of a second off of last year’s outright pole time for the LMP1 class.
The No. 2 Porsche car spoiled what would otherwise be a Toyota 1-2-3, with the 919 Hybrid in the hands of Timo Bernhard beating the No. 9 Toyota by just under a quarter of a second.
The No. 1 Porsche and No. 4 ByKolles CLM P1/01 rounded out the qualifying order in the Michelin-clad LMP1 class.
Matthieu Vaxiviere snagged the LMP2 provisional pole for TDS Racing late in the session in the No. 28 Oreca 07-Gibson.
In GT racing, the premier GTE-Pro qualifying times were as tight as ever for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Just over three and a half seconds spanned the entirety of the 13-car field, with the No. 95 Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vantage GTE taking the top spot with Nicki Thiim at the helm.
The two AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE cars finished second and third fastest in class, with Miguel Molina in the No. 51 besting teammate James Calado in the No. 71.
A fan favorite team from the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Ford Chip Ganassi Racing was fifth with the No. 68 Ford GT, but struggled with the sister cars, which could only manage 11th, 12th and 13th for the 68, 69 and 66 cars respectively.
With the fifth place result, however, Ford did just edge out IMSA rival Porsche, as the No. 92 911 RSR managed to snag sixth on the time sheets. The No. 82 Risi Competizione Ferrari, also an IMSA regular, split the 911 RSR pair in seventh with the Corvette Racing duo turning laps good enough for ninth and tenth on the evening.
Building off of the momentum of their win at Spa-Francorchamps, the No. 98 Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vantage GTE turned the fastest time in the GTE-Am class. Pedro Lamy turned a 3:55.134 in the car, more than half a second ahead of the nearest competitor, the No. 77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR.
Teams and drivers will have another opportunity to improve their times in tomorrow’s pair of two-hour qualifying sessions at 7:00 PM and 10:00 PM.