Toyota seize pole position by 5/1000ths of a second!Toyota Racing today claimed its second consecutive pole position, the opening round of the FIA WEC, but by the narrowest of margins – just five one thousands of a second!
In fact, it was a tightly-contested session throughout as only 0.452 seconds separated the six LMP1-H entries from Toyota, Audi and Porsche and there was edge-of-the-seat tension throughout the 25-minutes of qualifying. The three manufacturers filled the first three places, perfectly demonstrating how competitive the grid will be in 2014.
Alex Wurz and Kazuki Nakajima’s fastest average lap time in the No.7 TS040 Hybrid (the best two lap times of each driver combined to form the average) was 1:42.774. The Austrian and Japanese pair share the cockpit of the Toyota with Stéphane Sarrazin. Achingly close behind the pole sitter was the No.1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro of Tom Kristensen and Loïc Duval which set a fastest average of 1:43.779. Newcomer to the No.1 this year, Lucas di Grassi, will be racing with the World Champions in place of Allan McNish who retired from the driving seat at the end of last season.
Third on the grid will be the No.14 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Romain Dumas (F), Neel Jani (CH) and Marc Lieb, the French and Swiss drivers having been tasked with qualifying today. Their best average lap time was 1:43.087, just one tenth of a second ahead of the No.2 Audi of Fässler-Lotterer-Tréluyer.
Rebellion Racing’s two Lola Toyotas were separated by just one tenth of a second and it was the No.13 of 2013 GP2 Champion Fabio Leimer, who qualified with Dominik Kraihamer, which edged its No.12 sister car, Heidfeld and Beche having qualified.
In LMP2, G-Drive Racing maintained its dominance at the top of the time sheets. Olivier Pla and Roman Rusinov qualified the No.26 Morgan Nissan with an average time of 1:48.916, beating the No.47 KCMG ORECA 03 Nissan of Tsugio Matsuda and Richard Bradley by 0.18 seconds. The two SMP Racing ORECAs struggled to get the best from their tyres in the cool conditions, and will start from 11th and 12th places overall.
The 6 Hours of Silverstone, the opening round of the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship will take place at 12 noon tomorrow (Sunday, 20th April). With variable weather conditions expected, it’s likely to be a thriller from start to finish.