24 Hours of Le Mans: Toyota's Kazuki Nakajima beats teammate Kamui Kobayashi in warm-up ahead of race

Kazuki Nakajima shaded his Toyota teammate Kamui Kobayashi in Saturday's warm-up for the 85th Le Mans 24 Hour Race.

AFP June 17, 2017 16:30:41 IST
24 Hours of Le Mans: Toyota's Kazuki Nakajima beats teammate Kamui Kobayashi in warm-up ahead of race

Le Mans, France: Kazuki Nakajima shaded his Toyota teammate Kamui Kobayashi in Saturday's warm-up for the 85th Le Mans 24 Hour Race.

Nakajima, who is out to bury the bitter memories of his heartbreaking failure in the final lap last year, posted a best time of 3 min 18.308 sec at the end of the 45-minute session.

24 Hours of Le Mans Toyotas Kazuki Nakajima beats teammate Kamui Kobayashi in warmup ahead of race

File image of Kamui Kobayashi . Reuters

Kobayashi, who had set a new record lap time for the fabled Sarthe circuit to grab pole position on Thursday, was 0.363sec behind.

The two Toyotas relegated the Porsche of 2015 winner Nick Tandy back into third almost two seconds adrift ahead of the 1300 GMT start of the 24 hour four-wheel odyssey.

Toyota, aiming for their first Le Mans title, looked in good shape to make up for last year's disappointment with their third car driven by Le Mans rookie Yuji Kunimoto taking fourth in front of Porsche's second car driven by Brendon Hartley.

Twelve months ago Nakajima was heading for a famous win in the iconic endurance race when his Toyota lost power with just three minutes and one lap left.

The former Williams Formula One driver steered his stricken vehicle home but ended unclassified as Porsche celebrated a second successive triumph and their 18th in all.

The 2016 edition was staged in stormy conditions, in stark contrast to this weekend's renewal which is set to be the first Le Mans without rain since 2000.

With temperatures forecast to soar to 35 degrees, Toyota technical director Pascal Vasselon predicted the heat will be the "key factor" in this year's race.

Kobayashi took pole in the TS050 Hybrid in record style, clocking 3min 14.791sec in qualifying to beat the previous best lap of 3min 16.887sec set by Neel Jani of Switzerland in a Porsche two years ago.

The 2017 Le Mans, which has attracted its traditional massive crowd of around 250,000, will be set on its way by new Formula One supremo Chase Carey at 1500 local time.

Nakajima and his rival drivers face driving through dusk, night and dawn, covering a distance akin to a trip from Paris to Moscow, and back.

"It is an unbelievably long race which requires the best preparation. After last year, everyone in the team is pushing hard and we will be ready for the challenge," said Kobayashi.

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