World Endurance ChampionshipTOYOTA Racing will begin the new World Endurance Championship season from the second and third rows of the grid after a close qualifying session for the Six Hours of Silverstone.

The #1 TS040 HYBRID of last year’s Silverstone winners Anthony Davidson and Sébastien Buemi, alongside Kazuki Nakajima, will start from fourth place after missing out on a front row start by just 0.042secs. The #2 car of Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin and Mike Conway took sixth.

WEC features a slightly revised qualifying format for this season. Two drivers from each car must set a minimum of one flying lap each, with the grid decided by the average of each driver’s fastest lap.

In the #1, Anthony started the session and set one flying lap before handing over to Kazuki, who clocked his best time on the first of his two laps.

Stéphane was at the wheel of the #2 when the green flags waved and he consistently improved his time over three flying laps before handing over to Mike who also set his fastest time on the final effort of a three-lap stint.

The 20-minute session saw all three LMP1 manufacturers battling for grid position and hinting at an exciting race to come tomorrow. Both Porsche cars will start from the front row and TOYOTA Racing congratulates them on their achievement.

Nevertheless, TOYOTA Racing heads into tomorrow’s six-hour race in confident mood after showing encouraging pace over race stints. The race begins at midday local time.

TS040 HYBRID #1 (Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima)
Free practice 3: 2nd (1min 52.768secs), 25 laps
Qualifying: 4th (1min 40.382secs average)

Anthony Davidson: “Qualifying was slightly better than expected which is positive. Congratulations to Porsche, who we always expected to be on pole but I’m quite pleased with our performance. The car felt good. I’m happy with the balance and I’m looking forward to the race when it could be a different story. It should be interesting.”

Kazuki Nakajima: “I’m a little bit surprised to have such a strong qualifying pace; it’s better than we anticipated. I’m happy with the car and with the session. It’s a pity I lost a little time through the traffic in the final sector of my lap. Without that we could have got second place but it’s a long race and our performance level seems strong which is a good sign. I’m looking forward to an exciting race.”

TS040 HYBRID #2 (Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin, Mike Conway)
Free practice 3: 5th (1min 56.781secs), 24 laps
Qualifying: 6th (1min 41.694secs average)

Stéphane Sarrazin: “It was not a perfect qualifying session for me. I had a lot of understeer and didn’t carry enough speed through the corners. We are anyway concentrating on the race so it’s no big issue. We’ll see how the car is in race conditions. It will be a good battle and it’s a long race; anything can happen over six hours we’ll be in the fight, I’m sure.”

Mike Conway: “I took the car from Stéphane on the used tyres as we wanted to save a set for the race. The car felt okay but there are still some areas to work on. It’s always interesting to see the lap times at the first event of the season. Porsche looks to be very quick over one lap but I think the race will be closer. We’ll see what happens.”