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Toyota on provisional for Le Mans


Toyota has taken provisional pole position for this weekend's (17-18 June) 85th running of the Le Mans 24 hours, with Aston Martin locking out both the GTE Pro and Am classes.


Despite the qualifying session being cut from two hours to one hour 40 min due an accident at the Porsche Curves, the #7 TS050 Hybrid of Mike Conway / Stéphane Sarrazin / Kamui Kobayashi recorded a time of 3:18.793, 0.638 faster than the #8 sister car of Anthony Davidson / Kazuki Nakajima / Sebastien Buemi.

After initially setting the quickest time of 3:19.710 until being eclipsed by Kobayashi, the #2 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Brendon Hartley / Timo Bernhard / Earl Bamber set the third fastest time, 0.917 slower, with the third Toyota of Nicolas Lapierre / Jose Maria Lopez / Yuji Kunimoto a further 0.248 back in fourth.


In the second division LMP2 class, the #28 TDS Racing Oreca of Emmanuel Collard / Francois Perrodo / Matthieu Vaxiviere snatched pole and seventh place overall from the #31 Vaillante Rebellion Oreca of Nicolas Prost / Bruno Senna and Julien Canal, with the #25 Manor TDS Racing Oreca of Roberto Gonzalez / Simon Trummer / Vitaly Petrov third.


Having played second fiddle to Ferrari during practice, Aston Martin dominated the first tier GTE Pro class with the Vantage GTE of Marco Sorenson /  Nicki Thimm / Richie Stanaway recording a time of 3:52.748, putting it 32nd overall, and a scant 0.118 ahead of the Sam Bird / Davide Rigon / Miguel Molina AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE, with the second AF Corse car of James Calado / Alessandro Per Guidi and Michele Rugolo third.

Last year's winner Ford experienced a torrid session with the #67 GT of Pipo Derani / Harry Tincknell / Andy Priaulx placing fifth behind the second Aston Martin of Darren Turner / Jonathan Adam / Daniel Serra, while the best placed Chevrolet Corvette was that of Jan Magnussen / Antonio Garcia / Jordon Taylor in 40th overall and 9th in class. The highest placed Porsche meanwhile was the #92 911 RSR of Kevin Estre / Michael Christensen / Drik Werner in 37th place and sixth in class.


In GTE Am, the #43 Aston Martin of Pedro Lamy / Matthias Lauda / Paul Dalla Lana placed 48th overall and ahead two of the four GTE Pro Ford GT's entered with a time of 3:55.134, but with only one of the Blue Oval's challengers between it and the #77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche of Christian Reid / Marvin Dienst / Matteo Cairolli. The #90 Aston Martin of Rob Bell / Salih Yoluc / Euan Hankey is set to start 47th overall and third in class.


Where to watch in South Africa

As with previous 24 hours, this year's event will kick-off at 15h00 on Saturday and end at the same time on Sunday, with live coverage again provided by Supersport from 14h30 on Supersport 6 via the organising  Automobile Club de l'Ouest.

The voices behind the coverage

As well providing full event coverage, the worldwide feed will continue its recent tradition of full-on race commentary throughout the 24 hours with no breaks in between.

This year, former double Le Mans winner and Toyota Formula One driver Allan McNish will join ex-Dakar and British Touring Car Championship commentator Toby Moody, while current World Rally Championship end-of-stage reporter Julian Porter returns along with former DTM and Le Mans competitor, Peter Dumbreck. Duncan Vincent and Louise Beckett will report from the pits.


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