Toyota GAZOO Racing snatched pole position in a nail-biting qualifying session for the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, the third round of the 2023 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) in Belgium. The team is eyeing a hat-trick of Hypercar wins following victories at Sebring and Portimão.
Driver Kamui Kobayashi secured the pole position and a World Championship point with a 2-minute 0.812-second lap for the #7 GR010 HYBRID, which he shares with Mike Conway and José María López. Kobayashi’s impressive lap put him just 0.024 seconds ahead of the second-placed #50 Ferrari.
Contrasting Fortunes for #8 GR010 HYBRID
However, the #8 GR010 HYBRID of Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley, and Ryo Hirakawa faced a less fortunate fate. An accident in the opening minutes of the session means the car will start from the back of the grid. Hartley lost control of the car on cold tires during his out-lap and crashed into the right-side tire barriers, causing minor front-end damage to the vehicle.
According to Toyota Gazoo Racing’s technical director, Pascal Vasselon, the accident could potentially impact the car’s tire strategy for the race. Vasselon expressed concern about the possible loss of one set of tires, which would make managing the race very challenging. The team will need to find a clever strategy to work around the issue.
Intense Hypercar Qualifying Battle
The qualifying session saw a record 13 Hypercars from three different manufacturers fighting for pole position at the high-speed Spa circuit. The top four Hypercars were separated by only 0.231 seconds, raising expectations for a close battle for victory in front of a large crowd when the race begins.
Antonio Giovinazzi initially took pole position for Ferrari with a 2-minute 0.777-second lap but was demoted to third place after a track limits violation. This development allowed Kobayashi to reclaim pole position, while Miguel Molina secured second place with a 2-minute 0.836-second lap.
LMP2 and GTE Am Pole Positions
In the LMP2 category, Tom Blomqvist secured a second pole of the season for the #23 United Autosports ORECA-Gibson 07, posting a 2-minute 5.979-second lap. Louis Deletraz took second place, more than three-tenths behind Blomqvist.
Meanwhile, Ahmad Al Harthy claimed his maiden WEC pole position in GTE Am for the ORT by TF Sport Aston Martin. The Omani driver posted an impressive 2-minute 17.216-second lap with his Vantage GTE, securing the top spot by nearly two seconds.