Toyota steals pole at Fuji
Toyota steals pole at Fuji
Home town heroes Toyota are celebrating after taking a thrilling pole position for Sunday’s Fuji 6 Hours, the 5th round of the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship.
The #8 Toyota TS 040 Hybrid, driven by Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi, sealed a last-minute pole with Buemi setting a final lap time that ensured he just beat the #20 Porsche 919 Hybrid. The Swiss ace’s final lap ensured an average time of 1m26.886s, which was 0.043s better than the Porsche.
Mark Webber looked to have confirmed pole for Porsche but, when the Australian pitted with a few minutes of the 25 minute session remaining, Buemi had his opportunity to send the local fans in to raptures.
Porsche will start second and third, as the #14 Porsche Team’s 919 Hybrid heads the second row, just ahead of local favourite Kazuki Nakajima, who along with team mates Alex Wurz and Stephane Sarrazin had to settle for fourth fastest.
The Audi Sport Team Joest pair of Audi R18 e-tron quattros start the race from the third row of the grid, with the #2 crewed car of Treluyer, Lotterer and Fassler ahead of their #1 sister machine.
“That was an amazing qualifying session, getting pole position for our home race.,” Davidson said.
“You never know what’s going to happen in aggregate qualifying. I was confident we had the speed. My second flying lap should have been faster but there was mud on the track at turn 15 which cost a little time. Still I thought it was enough. It was but only just; we really had to work for it. Thanks to the team, including everyone at Toyota; without their support we wouldn’t be on pole today.”
It is the 10th pole position for Toyota since the inception of the FIA World Endurance Championship and the fourth time this season that the manufacturer has topped the qualifying times.
“This is the best qualifying you can dream of because at the last minute we grabbed the pole by such a small margin, Buemi said.
“If you get pole like in Austin when it is by some distance it is great, but to fight so hard for it and succeed is just perfect. After Anthony’s first laps I thought it might be relatively comfortable for us but I was wrong.
“We struggled a bit to warm up the tyres so I had quite low grip for my first laps, then the red flag came and the tires cooled as we waited in the pit lane. But they came up to temperature and just in time for my last flying lap.”
Roman Rusinov and Olivier Pla were fastest in LM P2 aboard the OAK/G-Drive Ligier-Nissan JSP2 with an average time of 1m33.062s – nearly half a second ahead of the OAK Racing Morgan-Judd/BMW LMP2 driven by TUDOR United SportsCar Championship regulars Alex Brundle and Gustavo Yacaman.
In the GTE Pro class, Aston Martin reigned supreme but not with the car you would expect. Fernando Rees and Alex MacDowall claimed their first pole position aboard the #99 Aston Martin Vantage GTE with an average of 1m39.686s set on the soft Michelin tire.
Star team-mates Stefan Mucke and Darren Turner were 3/10ths adrift on the medium-compound tire.
Aston Martin also scored the GTE Am pole with Pedro Lamy and Christoffer Nygaard.