24 Hours of Le Mans - Kamui Kobayashi wins the inaugural hyperpole
Back

24 Hours of Le Mans - Kamui Kobayashi wins the inaugural hyperpole

The very first Hyperpole in the history of the 24 Hours of Le Mans was won by Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi, a regular when it comes to topping the timesheets.

For the third time in his career and the second time in a row, Kamui Kobayashi clocked the fastest time in the 24 Hours qualifying sessions. The Toyota driver, whose 3:4.791 lap in 2017 is the fastest ever at Le Mans, produced a most respectable 3:15.267. At the end of the session, it seemed he was about to make history again. In his last lap, he cleared the first and second sections with intermediate times faster than those of his record lap! However, he was unable to top it after getting blocked coming out of the Porsche Curves.

It won’t be an all-Japanese line-up on the starting grid though. The #1 Rebellion R13-Gibson fielded by Rebellion Racing and driven by Bruno Senna, Norman Nato and Gustavo Menezes will be in the second spot at 14:30 tomorrow. Gustravo Menezes’s lap time of 3:15.822 was a nice surprise and the fastest ever for a R13-Gibson. Meanwhile, Louis Delétraz was pipped at the post in the team’s sister car. A podium place wouldn’t have been undeserved though given the car was recorded doing 349 kph before hitting the brakes for the first time in the Mulsanne Straight. 

The LMP2 class has a new lap record. Paul Di Resta put the #22 Oreca 07-Gibson for United Autosports with 3:24.528. He ousted the previous manufacturer from the top spot, crushing Paul-Loup Chatin’s 2018 time of 3:24.842. Jean-Eric Vergne came second in the #25 Aurus 01-Gibson fielded by G-Drive Racing. The #29 Oreca 07-Gibson fielded by Racing Team Nederland which has been holding its own in the class since yesterday took third place.

The top three LMGTE Pro spots all went to different makes. Gianmaria Bruni was the fastest although he didn’t manage to better his 2018 time of 3:47.504. That time round, a triple induction system helped him fly down the straight sections to optimise his top speed. All the same, his lap time today of 3:50.874 was just shy of 300 kph. The #52 Ferrari GTE EVO fielded by AF Corse and driven by Pier Guidi, James Calado and Daniel Serra came second, followed by Aston Martin Racing’s #95 Aston Martin Vantage AMR driven by Nicki Thiim, Marco Sørensen and Richard Westbrook. The Gaydon-based manufacturer’s three British LMGTE cars – two in the Pro class and one LMGTE Am – raced the Hyperpole in formation.

In LMGTE Am, Côme Ledogar took the lead in the #61 Ferrari 488 GTE EVO fielded by Luzich Racing. The car stands out with its decorative number 61, a nod to the race’s history. The Ferrari was trailed by two Porsches: the #77 Porsche 911 RSR fielded by Dempsey-Proton Racing with Christian Ried, Riccardo Pera and Matt Campbell at the wheel, then Team Project 1’s #56 Porsche 911 RSR driven by Egidio Perfetti, Larry Ten Voorde and Matteo Cairoli

Here are the fastest times for each class at the end of this Hyperpole:

LMP1: #7 Toyota TS050-Hybrid Toyota Gazoo Racing - Kamui Kobayashi: 3:15.267
LMP2: #22 Oreca 07-Gibson United Autosports - Paul Di Resta: 3:24.528
LMGTE Pro: #91 Porsche 911 RSR-19 Porsche GT Team - Gianmaria Bruni: 3:50.874
LMGTE Am: #61 Ferrari 488 GTE EVO Luzich Racing - Côme Ledogar: 3:51.266

All Hyperpolesitters were awarded a special trophy at the end of the race.