Alonso adds spice to Le Mans recipe: Buemi

Alonso adds spice to Le Mans recipe: Buemi

That effort was less than six tenths slower than Kamui Kobayashi's record 3m14.791s lap from 2017, which was set in far more favourable weather than the overcast and drizzly conditions that were a factor for much of the final part of qualifying. Speaking after the pre-race test day, Button told the media: "I was reasonably happy, but in the morning I found it another world - I was driving around here in a vehicle that I don't really know. I was pushing hard to try to beat [Kobayashi's] record, so maybe I could have done better in places".

Nakajima, who shares the Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050 hybrid with Alonso and Switzerland's Sebastien Buemi, had already set the provisional pole on Wednesday but improved on that time to beat the sister auto by nearly 2 seconds.

Improvements from both Rebellions at the start of the final two-hour session looked to have secured the leading privateer outfit a second-row lockout, only for the faster #3 auto to have its time removed.

The 36-year old Spaniard will start from pole position after his Japanese team-mate, and former Williams driver, Kazuki Nakajima posted the fastest time in qualifying. Ths second SMP Racing vehicle will start with Vitaly Petrov, Mikhail Aleshin and Jenson Button driving for the team.

Porsche also reigned in the GTE Am class with Dempsey - Proton Racing coming out top in the 911 RSR, ahead of the #86 Gulf Racing vehicle, which improved on Thursday evening to elevate to second.

SMP Racing and DragonSpeed were the biggest surprises of the session, managing to set lap times that were not predicted, following their performances at Spa Francorchamps and the Le Mans test day. Still, the vehicle won the LMP2 class and finished second overall.

Paul-Loup Chatin secured the LMP2 class pole for the IDEC Sport ORECA Gibson 07 with a time of 3:24.842.

Chatin's time of 3m24.842s had been shaded by 2013 event victor Loic Duval in the #28 TDS vehicle, only for the stewards' intervention to bump the auto he shared with Matthieu Vaxiviere and Francois Perrodo back to fourth.

Alonso looking good for the Le Mans win and a step closer to the triple crown.

"We know that qualifying is not really important for a 24-hour race but I'm happy for Toyota to be one-two ahead of the long race in front of us". The #10 DragonSpeed failed to improve on its Wednesday benchmark in the BR1 but stayed sixth.

That's still half a second slower than Kamui Kobayashi's record time previous year. The first Ligier was the #23 Panis Barthez Competition entry fifth in LMP2.

The #47 Villorba Corse Dallara did not re-emerge after a suspension failure caused Giorgio Sernagiotto to crash heavily and bring out the red flags in qualifying two.

Porsche has won the past three runnings of the event with its 919 Hybrid, but the German auto giant has stepped away from top-tier endurance racing in 2018 to focus on the electric single-seater series, Formula E.

But Toyota isn't alone in the LMP1 category, as it will be competing against a number of non-hybrid prototypes entered by privateer teams.

Once again, the best of the other LMP2 chassis wasn't close to the top.

Porsche locked out the top three places in GTE Am, with Matteo Cairoli's lap from first qualifying in the #88 Dempsey-Proton vehicle proving enough for class pole. The sister vehicle finished second in the final order, 0.557 seconds behind, with Rebellion Racing #3 rounding off the top three.

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