The starting grid is now determined. TOYOTA Racing #7 will start the 2013 Le Mans 24 Hours race from P5 and #8 in P4. Read our final qualifying report after the break.
Updated: 21/06/13 13:00 CET
Through the majority of the day, the weather remained pleasantly warm and sunny. However, as the cars got ready to go out for Qualifying 2 at 19:00 CET, the weather threw another curveball.
Light rain began to fall on the start/finish straight, with track moisture level increasing as we approached session start. A few minutes before the green flag fell, heavy downpour prompted the race director to declare the track wet.
First up in #7 was Alex Wurz while #8 was piloted by Anthony. Air temperature stayed low at around 19°C, track temperature hovered in the high 20s with humidity level at 74%. Cans came in and back out for exploratory laps.
For most of the early session, our cars were the only ones running, setting times and keeping the fans in the stands entertained. Since the cumulative fastest lap times on the board were set on Wednesday in dry conditions, there was no chance for time improvements with the track remaining wet.
Half an hour into the session, the track started to dry and our drivers started putting in faster lap times as other cars started to venture out. An early 4min lap by Alex was followed quickly by a late 3min45sec lap by Anthony as the track dried quickly in the afternoon sun (when it peeked out from behind the heavy isolated clouds around the track).
As the #8 car was handed over to Sébastien Buemi, the dreaded red flag was waved again, halting the session. With 40min left of the session and the clock continuing to count down, the waiting game was back on. As with the day before, the race director deemed the damaged barrier to be in too poor a condition to be repaired in time and called the session off.
The final qualifying session was extended by 30min, starting at 21:30 CET instead of the planned 22:00 start time, ending at the originally scheduled midnight.
Both air and track temperatures dropped before as the final session started with humidity increasing to 80%. Although the session started under wet conditions, the rain stopped quickly. Still, the threat of rain remained in the air, and forecasts – even a late night thunderstorm.
The #8 car went out on track first with Sébastien behind the wheel, followed by Alex. Lap times tumbled as track conditions improved. Both drivers were putting in blue times (or session best times), going from 3min58sec down to 3min32sec – very close to the fastest times set on Wednesday.
The session was stopped once again 1hr20min in after an incident left debris on the track which needed to be cleared. Red flags were becoming the norm at this point, although this time it took just 10min to clear up the debris. We suffered one more red flag before the chequered flag fell at midnight.
Our drivers ended the session with a final position swap. Car #8 (Anthony, Sébastien and Stéphane) will start from P4 while car #7 (Alex, Nicolas and Kazuki) will start on the third row in P5 on the grid.
Qualifying Result (overall):
#7 3:26.676 P5
#8 3:26.654 P4
Coming up on Friday, June 22 is the traditional Drivers’ Parade in the city centre of Le Mans. The 2013 Le Mans 24 Hours will start at 15:00 CET on Saturday, June 22 and end 24 hours later on Sunday, June 23.
We’ve got something really fun lined up tomorrow – Le Mans Track Guide with Alex Wurz. Watch this space!
Before we go grab some shuteye, here are Sébastien’s thoughts on today’s final qualifying session:
Updated: 21/06/2013 13:30 CET
Two-time Le Mans winner, Alex Wurz, guides us on a lap around the legendary Circuit de la Sarthe on the Toyota Motorsport GmbH simulator. Enjoy the thrills of every corner, tackling every kerb and the incredible 300hp hybrid boost at corner exit.
Updated: 21/06/2013 23:30 CET
Although there was no track action on Friday at Le Mans, the paddock was kept busy throughout the day. TOYOTA Racing hosted their midday Press Conference at our wonderfully designed Toyota Europe Hospitality. During the weekend, this will be where we host guests, business partners and other VIPs, including Takeshi Uchiyamada, recently appointed Chairman of Toyota Motor Corporation. Last year, Uchiyamada-san was afforded the honour of waving the start flag at Le Mans 24 Hours as he is also know as the Father of the Toyota Prius.
Our drivers headed back into the city centre of Le Mans for the traditional Drivers Parade where drivers get up close and personal with fans from all corners of the world. Our team handed out autograph cards and wristbands as they were driven through the city in classic cars.
The weather stayed pleasant until yet another shower late in the afternoon. Despite the damp, the weather did put on one amazing show (see picture below).