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Hartley on Portugal pole for Toyota one-two
By Damion Smy
Sunday 16th April, 2023 - 9:58am
Brendon Hartley has set a record-breaking lap saw that sees him head an all-Toyota front-row for Round 2 of the 2023 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) season, the 6 Hours of Portimão.
The New Zealander’s 1:30.171s lap is the fastest-ever Hypercar lap around the 4.653km Portuguese circuit, yet the blistering pace was mandatory to overcome team-mate Kamui Kobayashi, who was only 0.273s behind in the #7 GR010 Hybrid.
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“That felt good. We put a bit more effort into qualifying this time and the car felt amazing over one lap,” said Hartley.
“My lap was very clean and when I crossed the line, I knew it was good, which it had to be with Kamui so close behind. Our crew has done an amazing job so thanks to everyone. We made some good steps since first practice.
“It hasn’t been straightforward because we haven’t been to this track for a while, so we had to work hard to get the set-up right and I didn’t expect to have such a gap today.
“Now we are focusing on the race, and I am expecting a big fight, particularly with Ferrari but Cadillac and Porsche as well. Their race pace looks strong so I am sure it will be close, but we are starting from the front.”
Ferrari – who stunned with an unexpected pole position for the new 499P at the season-opener in Sebring last month – locked out the second row. This time the #50 Ferrari AF Corse of Niklas Nielsen was the quicker of the two, ahead of James Calado.
The Penske Porsche 963 LMDh of Kevin Estre was fifth, with the fastest of the Peugeot 9X8s that of Nico Muller, qualifying sixth.
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