During the second qualifying session of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Kamui Kobayashi in the number 7 Toyota broke the Circuit de la Sarthe lap record by setting a 3:14.791 lap. The new time is more than two seconds faster than the previous record of 3:16.788 set by Neel Jani for Porsche back in 2015 qualifying. Moreover, the new record eclipsed the 3:14.8 set by Hans-Joachim Stuck back in 1985, which had yet to include four corners on the current layout.
According to Alex Wurz, conditions during the second qualifying session were ideal when Kobayashi made his flying lap. A tailwind on the straights made the car accelerate faster and a headwind helped the car stay planted through the corners, making Kobayashi average a speed of 251.9 km/h.
At the start of the second qualifying session, Mike Conway managed to beat the provisional pole set by Kobayashi during the first session. The 3:18.651 stood as the fastest time until the session was stopped after 17 minutes due to a crash in LMP2. Once the session, Toyota sent Kobayashi out and was able to take advantage of the light traffic conditions to set the record time.
Kobayashi had already put Toyota on provisional pole during the first session with a 3:18.793, but has managed to secure the pole with the record breaking time. Meanwhile, the number eight Toyota driven by Nakajima qualified second with a time of 3:17.128, locking out the first row. Defending champions Porsche meanwhile sat in the second row clinching third and fourth positions.
This year, Toyota is seeking redemption from last year's race. The Japanese team came close to winning the 24 Hours but a powertrain failure in the last five minutes handed the victory to Porsche. With the front row lockout, Toyota is gunning for the win.
The 85th 24 Hours of Le Mans flags off this Saturday at 9:00PM (local time).