Toyota fails inspection, moving Alonso car to pole
UPDATE The pole position-winning #7 TS050 HYBRID of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María L¢pez will start the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps from the pit lane after an administrative error resulted in the cancelation of the car’s qualifying lap times.
An incorrect identification number for the car’s fuel flow meter was declared for the #7 prior to qualifying. This subsequently emerged during post-qualifying scrutineering. As a result, the car will start from the pit lane, one lap behind the field.
The team accepts full responsibility for the error, which had no impact whatsoever on car performance. The fuel flow meter which was used in the #7 was fully homologated and calibrated.
Team processes and procedures will be strengthened immediately to avoid any repeat of this unfortunate error.
The situation means the #8 TS050 HYBRID of Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Fernando Alonso will start from pole position.
Toyota made the perfect start to the 2018-19 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) season by taking pole position for the season-opening Total 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.
Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi, in the #7 TS050 HYBRID they share with Jose Maria Lopez, took pole position with a 1min 54.583secs average of their fastest laps during a qualifying session which was delayed by 45 minutes due to two red flag periods.
Fernando Alonso took part in his first WEC qualifying session alongside team-mate Kazuki Nakajima and they completed a TOYOTA clean sweep. They will start second on the grid in the #8 TS050 HYBRID shared with Sebastien Buemi.
That result means TOYOTA will start from pole position for the 15th time as it attempts to win a fourth consecutive WEC race, and 17th in total.
The point earned for pole position gives TOYOTA GAZOO Racing an early advantage in the teams’ World Championship standings, with a clear target to strengthen that position in Saturday’s race, which begins at 1.30pm local time.
Fords lockout GT Front Row
The two Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GTs have qualified on pole position and in second place, locking out the front row of the grid for tomorrow’s ‘Total 6 Hours of Spa’, the first round of the new WEC Super Season.
Aston Martin Racing’s Vantage GTE has made its qualifying debut at Spa
The new racecar – based on the critically acclaimed new Vantage – carried drivers Maxime Martin (B), Alex Lynn (GB) and Jonny Adam to P8 in the #97 entry, while the sister #95 car of Nicki Thiim (DN), Marco Sorensen (DN) and Darren Turner (GB) will start from P10 in the GTE Pro class.
Afterwards the team expressed satisfaction at a trouble-free weekend so far with a car that represents the first all-new machine from Aston Martin Racing in more than seven years, with expectations that race-day should see a further step forward in performance.
Aston Martin Racing debutant Alex Lynn, who qualified the #97 car alongside Max, said: “It was a really positive day. We had done a lot of preparation coming into this race and our main objective was to execute a well-drilled qualifying session from Maxime and myself. The car is in its infancy, and as a team it is all about ramping up the intensity before we get to Le Mans next month. So while tomorrow is an important day to ensure we score points for our world championship campaign, we also need to prepare for our Le Mans 24 Hours attack.”
The team’s other newcomer Martin added: “We’ve tried hard to optimize what we have and put everything together, but obviously we still need to find some outright pace. It is a long six-hour race, so our aim is to have a flawless race and maximize execution as a team. It’s a long season so we will see how things develop.”
Mike Conway (TS050 HYBRID #7): “They were a strong couple of laps between me and Kamui. The car felt good on my lap so I just let it do its thing really. It’s nice to get that point on the board for pole position and to start from the front row. Our team-mates kept us honest as always and it’s great for the team to be one-two in qualifying; we’ll try to convert it into a win tomorrow.”
Kamui Kobayashi (TS050 HYBRID #7): “Thanks to all the team for their hard work over the winter. They did a great job today and Mike set a really strong lap time. We are in different situation compared to last year but we worked hard to become stronger and we have shown this in qualifying. But the race is most important so that is our main focus now.”
Kazuki Nakajima (TS050 HYBRID #8): “It was a bit of a tricky qualifying with the long delays. I made a small mistake in first sector but that was my only regret. The car felt good to drive but we believe we can still fine-tune it for the race. We need to maximize the car because it’s going to be a challenge, especially to look after the tires. It’s going to be a long race but this is a good start to the season for the team.”
Fernando Alonso (TS050 HYBRID #8): “It was a good qualifying session and I enjoyed every single corner. I’m happy with the lap and the experience. There was a little bit of lap time to find, especially in the middle sector where I had some moments in turn eight and nine but I put a clean lap together then Kazuki did a great job with his lap. One-two for the team in the first qualifying of the season is good. There are a long six hours ahead of us but definitely we want to stay at the front.”
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