LE MANS, France – The driver Kamui Kobayashi secured pole position in his Toyota TS050 ahead of 24 hours of Le Mans, leaving second-place Fernando Alonso of Spain looking forward on Friday to what he described as his hour of truth: overtaking his teammate to take the lead while racing.
Alonso, who retired from Formula One at the end of last season, has been trying to make a name for himself in endurance races such as Le Mans.
“This is a special race and when it comes to the moment of truth, with the clock and 36 hours before the start is when you start to feel alive,” Alonso said at dawn on Friday, after the third session of the race qualification.
Pole-sitter Kobayashi’s Toyota will be co-driven by Jose Maria “Pechito” Lopez of Mexico and Englishman Mike Conway.
“Being the world champion on Sunday night is the most important thing for us, but there is always the issue of not being able to finish the race, that’s the big difference with last year,” said Alonso, who managed to get the first triumph for Toyota in the 24 hours of Le Mans together with Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima.
“Up to now it has been the waiting, the preparation and the tests, now the strongest emotions arrive, and I feel very well,” he told EFE at the La Sarthe circuit, where his car will start second, behind his teammate Kobayashi.
“We are happy,” said the Spaniard. “The goal was to get first and second and it has been achieved. We have more potential in the car, without a doubt” he said.
The Japanese Kobayashi covered, in his best lap, the 13,626 meters of the circuit of La Sarthe in three minutes, 17.161 seconds.
Alonso needs to finish at least in the 7th position on Sunday to win the World Championship with co-drivers Nakajima and Buemi.
Toyota said it intended to continue participating in the World Resistance Championship (WEC) in the future when organizers are due to introduce the so-called “hypercars” category as announced at La Sarthe by Shigeki Tomoyama, president of the Toyota Gazoo Racing team.
The Japanese team – which leads the WEC with the Toyota TS050 Hybrid – is driven by Alonso, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima.