Kamui Kobayashi’s 3.14 lap beat the previous record by two seconds.

If the qualifying rounds for the 85th running of the 24 Hours at Le Mans are any indication, it’s going to be a very fast-paced day of action. Toyota Gazoo Racing will hold both the first and second starting positions when the flag drops this Saturday, which is certainly an enviable feat for any team to accomplish. However, it’s Kamui Kobayashi’s blistering qualifying lap that has rocked the racing world. His time of 3 minutes 14.79 seconds didn’t just set a new lap record for the 8.45-mile circuit, it smashed the previous mark of 3 minutes 16.88 seconds set in 2015 by Neel Jani.

 

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And it’s not as if the second-best qualifier was slow. Le Mans veteran driver Kazuki Nakajima nearly broke the previous record as well, turning in a time of 3 minutes 17.12 seconds to give Toyota a one-two start for the race. Both cars are TS050 hybrids that debuted last year, racing in the LMP1 category. They feature a 2.4-litre bitubo V6 with an 8MJ hybrid system that produces a combined 1,000 horsepower.

“A big thanks to the team for this result,” said Kobayashi on his qualifying effort. “I got in the car with 100% confidence and when you are confident, you are quick. It was an amazing lap and the car was brilliant. It was the right moment, just after the red flag with no traffic. I am really proud of this pole position. Still, it is a 24-hour race so the important thing is the race result and that is what we are focusing on.”

Kobayashi didn’t just set a new lap record for the modern course layout at Le Mans. He also set a new average speed record of 156.5 miles per hour (251.9 kilometres per hour), barely topping the previous average of 156.4 (251.7) which has stood since 1985. That may not sound terribly impressive, but the previous speed record was established before the pair of chicanes were installed on the track’s massively long Mulsanne straight.

Given the nature of endurance racing and Le Mans in particular, setting records doesn’t guarantee a win. Last year Toyota nearly claimed its first ever Le Mans victory until mechanical problems led to engine failure just minutes before the finish.

 

Source: Toyota

 

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