Brendon Hartley, Sebastian Buemi and Ryo Hirakawa put their Toyota first at the Le Mans 24 Hours Thursday as the Japanese company announced a front row shutdown.
Former Formula 1 driver Hartley secured his team’s lead with a time of 3 minutes 24.408 seconds. It was sixth in a row in Toyota’s classic endurance event.
Toyota’s second Hybrid, with the 2021 Kamui Kobayashi Pillar behind the wheel, clocked 3 minutes 24.828 seconds.
Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez share driving duties with former Formula 1 driver Kobayashi.
It’s fantastic, the car is exceptional,” said Hartley, whose car finished second to his teammates in the 2021 race.
“We were under pressure on the last lap. Now, we will focus on the weekend.”
The Alps of Andre Negrau, Mathieu Vaccivière and Nicolas Lapierre pushed the leaders hard, finishing third in 3 minutes 24.850 seconds.
“We know they are faster than us, and the important thing is not to be too far away to let them run as quiet as last year,” Lapierre said.
Alpine ranked third in the 2021 edition of the event.
Despite Toyota’s expected dominance, the cruising time was slower than in 2021 when Kobayashi clocked 3 minutes 23.900 seconds.
Sebastien Buemi – Ryo Hirakawa – Brendon Hartley (SUI-JPN-NZL / Toyota N.8 / Hypercar / hybrid) 3: 24.408
Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez (GBR-JPN-ARG / Toyota N.7 / Hypercar / hybrid) 3: 24.828
Andre Negrau – Mathieu Vaxevere – Nicolas Lapierre (BRA-FRA-FRA / Alpine / Hypercar) 3: 24.850
Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook, Frank Mellux (AUS-GBR-FRA / Glickenhaus N.709 / Hypercar) 3: 25.841
Olivier Pla, Romain Dumas, Felipe Dirani (FRA-FRA-BRA / Glickenhaus N.708 / Hypercar) 3: 26.359
Sean Galil – Robin Friggins – Renee Rast (INA-NED-GER / WRT N.31 / LMP2) 3: 28.394
Rui Andrade – Ferdinand Habsburg-Loringen – Norman NATO (POR-AUT-FRA/Realteam by WRT N.41/LMP2) 3:29.697
Philip Albuquerque – Philip Hanson – Will Owen (ESP-GBR-USA/Oreca-Gibson/LMP2) 3: 30.070
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