Circuit de la Sarthe always delivers fascinating racing, but Le Mans was particularly good last year. Toyota opened a healthy lead, and looked set to end its Le Mans drought on the 18th attempt – until mechanical problems left the TS050 stranded next to the pit wall. This year is about redemption for the team, and its campaign has started in ideal fashion. Kamui Kobayashi has smashed the lap record at Circuit de la Sarthe in his TS050 Hybrid, clinching pole position for this weekend's race in the process.
According to people on the ground, Kobayashi's record lap was conducted under ideal conditions. There was a slight tailwind along the long back straight, and a mild headwind in the Porsche Curves helped create a pinch of extra downforce from the car's complex aerodynamics package.
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Slower traffic often ruins flying laps for the LMP1 cars during qualifying but the TS050 was treated to a clean lap, with no interference from pesky back markers. As a result, the #07 TS050 will start from pole, followed by the #08 TS050 Hybrid. Porsche will start from third and fourth on the grid.
The new 3:14.791 record is two seconds faster than Neel Jani's previous record, set behind the wheel of his Porsche 919 Hybrid in 2015. Check the lap out in the video below – it's almost like the footage is on fast forward, and the car sits unbelievably flat through the corners.