After last year’s devastating non-classified finish for Toyota, driver Kamui Kobayashi has brought the team back to the forefront of this season with a pole-getting record lap of Circuit de la Sarthe.
The previous overall lap record for the circuit was 3:16.887, the fastest since the chicanes were built into Mulsanne Straight 27 years ago.
Kobayashi ran an incredibly clean lap, only needing to pass a couple of slower cars before getting onto open track and completing the lap in a searing time of 3:14.791.
Just over two seconds faster than the record.
In a statement, Kobayashi said his team was to thank for the result.
“I got in the car with 100% confidence and when you are confident, you are quick. It was an amazing lap and the car was brilliant. It was the right moment, just after the red flag with no traffic,” the driver said.
“I am really proud of this pole position. Still, it is a 24-hour race so the important thing is the race result and that is what we are focusing on.”
British driver and Kobayashi’s teammate Mike Conway echoed the astonishment of the commentators after the lap.
“That was a mega lap by Kamui, everything worked perfectly. But Kamui has been flying all week so we were confident he could do it.”
Pole position for this year’s race would have to be a huge relief for the team, after last year’s disappointing end to what looked like a strong race.
With six minutes to go, the Toyota car which was leading the race lost power, and completed the last lap in almost 12 minutes – well over the six minute allowed time.
This resulted in the car being disqualified.
The 24 hour race will be held over this weekend, the 17th and 18th of June.