Qualifying for this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans would see four Asian drivers’ entries progress through in the top 8 of their classes to Hyperpole as well as surprise eliminations from Toyota Gazoo Racing. Asian Motorsport reviews the two qualifying sessions at the Circuit de la Sarthe.

By Seb Tirado 

Qualifying – Hypercar

Kamui Kobayashi would set the pace in the #7 GR010 Hybrid for much of Qualifying, ultimately setting a fastest lap time of a 3:24.754 to put himself 4th and into Hyperpole. However, he lost control of his Toyota going into Virage Corvette with less than three minutes to go in the session, spinning into the gravel and causing a red flag to bring the session to a premature end. 

Yifei Ye also participated in Qualifying for the #83 AF Corse 499P, albeit with less success compared to Kobayashi as the Chinese driver put in a 3:25.766 to qualify 12th on the grid for Saturday.

Elsewhere, the #8 GR010 Hybrid qualified in 11th with a 3:25.446 and the #311 Whelen Cadillac V-Series.R qualified in 18th with a 3:26.311. The #11 Isotta Fraschini will start in 22nd with a 3:29.865.

Kamui Kobayashi in the #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Hypercar during Qualifying | Credit: Toyota Gazoo Racing

Due to Kobayashi causing a red flag in Qualifying, the #7 Toyota was penalised by having all of the Japanese driver’s lap times deleted, resulting in the entry having to start from 23rd and at the back of the Hypercar field.

Qualifying – LMP2 & LMGT3

The #37 Cool Racing entry finished the session at the top of the timing sheets in LMP2 with a 3:32.827 done by Ritomo Miyata’s teammate Malthe Jakobsen. 

Hiroshi Koizumi’s #82 TF Sport Z06 GT3.R would finish the session in 3rd with a 3:56.105 by teammate Daniel Juncadella, with the #66 JMW Motorsport 296 GT3 of Salih Yoluç in 7th with a 3:56.443 by teammate Larry ten Voorde. The #777 D’Station Racing Vantage AMR GT3 of Satoshi Hoshino would round off those progressing to Hyperpole in 8th with a 3.56.500 by teammate Marco Sørensen. 

Elsewhere, the #87 Akkodis ASP Team RC F GT3 qualified in 10th with a 3:56.561 and the #46 Team WRT M4 GT3 qualified in 12th with a 3:56.738. The #31 Team WRT entry qualified in 15th with a 3:56.947 and the #95 United Autosports 720S GT3, driven by Marino Sato, qualified in 19th with a 3:57.313.

Marino Sato leaving the pits during Qualifying in the #95 United Autosports LMGT3 | Credit: Julien Delfosse / DPPI

Hyperpole

Driven once again by Miyata’s teammate Malthe Jakobsen, the #37 Cool Racing entry would ultimately qualify 6th in LMP2 after looking strong throughout the session but not setting a faster lap time after the red flag near the end of Hyperpole. 

In LMGT3, the #66 JMW Motorsport 296 GT3 finished in 3rd with a 3:58.938 by Yoluç’s other teammate Giacomo Petrobelli. Satoshi Hoshino drove the #777 D’Station Racing Vantage AMR GT3 in Hyperpole, putting the entry 6th in class with a 4:02.787. 

Hiroshi Koizumi would also make an appearance in Hyperpole in the #82 TF Sport Z06 GT3.R, finishing just under nine-tenths of a second behind Hoshino with a 4:03.681 to qualify 7th in class.

The 92nd edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans gets underway later today at 14:00 UTC / 16:00 CEST.

Header image credit: Toyota Gazoo Racing

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