Toyota on Spa pole, Hartley crashes out

The #7 Toyota is on pole for the TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps. Image: Paul Foster

Toyota driver Kamui Kobayashi has beaten Ferrari to a hotly contested pole position for the TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps by a scant 0.024s.

The Japanese driver clocked a 2:00.812 against a 2:00.836 lap from Nicklas Neilsen in the #50 AF Corse Ferrari around the 7.004km circuit to take pole in the #7 Toyota he shares with Mike Conway and José María López, relegating Neilsen to second.

The Toyota and Ferrari teams have wrestled throughout the three practice sessions held at the Belgian circuit so far, with Ferrari seemingly on top in Qualifying after Antonio Giovanizzi stormed to a 2:00.777 to score what looked like a second pole position of the season for the Ferrari 499P.

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Yet a track limits violation saw the Italian driver’s time deleted, his next best 2:00.973 only good enough for third.

The #8 Toyota of Sébastien Buemi/Brendon Hartley/Ryo Hirakawa, which won the 6 Hours of Portimao last week, didn’t feature in the fight for pole at Spa, Hartley crashing at Raidillon before having set a time. It will start last and 13th in Hypercars.

Earl Bamber’s practice pace translated into fourth in the #2 Cadillac Racing, leading the two Chip Ganassi Cadillacs, with the #2 of Sebastein Bourdais fifth.

The Penske Porsche 963 of Kevin Estre was sixth, ahead of the first customer 963, the #38 Jota entry, which Will Stevens drove to seventh with a 2:02.907s lap.

The Glickenhaus-Pipo 007 of Olivier will start eighth, ahead of the first factory Peugeot, which was Jean-Eric Vergne with a 2:03.217 to take ninth from the second Penske Porsche of Frederic Makowiecki, with the second Peugeot in 11th.

In LMP2, the #23 United Autosports Oreca-Gibson 07 starts on pole after Tom Blomqvist set a 2:05.979s lap for the team, while in Omanian Ahmad Al Harthy claimed his first WEC pole with a 2:17.216s in the ORT by TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GTE.

The 6 Hours of Spa starts at 12:45 local time/20:45 AEST.

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