Fernando Alonso set a new unofficial Sebring lap record on Thursday night as Toyota claimed yet another pole position in the World Endurance Championship .
Alonso set the fastest time of the 20-minute nighttime session with a 1:40.124 lap aboard his Toyota TS050 HYBRID. That was more that two seconds under the lap record set by Sebastien Bourdais at the wheel of a Peugeot 908 HDi in the 2009 Sebring 12 Hours, back in the days when the Florida classic was a round of the American Le Mans Series.
Kazuki Nakajima followed up on Alonso's lap with a 1:40.513 to put the No. 8 Toyota on pole for Friday's Sebring 1000 with a 1:40.318 average. The sister car qualified by Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez was half a second behind as Toyota blocked out the front row for the sixth round of the 2018/19 WEC Super Season, which takes place on the eve of the Sebring round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship round.
Conway's 1:41.082 left the No. 7 Toyota nearly a second behind after the first runs before Lopez posted a 1:40.544 right at the end of the session. The Argentinian driver had to pull out a quick lap to make it another all-Toyota front row after an off on his previous lap, his time resulting in a 1:40.803 average.
Alonso felt he gave a little up.
"Definitely it was a nice lap, a nice feeling with the car," he said. "There were a couple of tenths here and there, so maybe a 1:39 was possible."
Nakajima said his two-time Formula 1 championship-winning teammate did most of the work.
"Thanks to Fernando's mega-lap, the only job I had to do was not mess up and put the lap together," he said.
The No. 17 SMP Racing entry qualified by Stephane Sarrazin and Egor Orudzhev was best of the LMP1 privateers with a 1:42.730 average. Sarrazin had posted a 1:43.542 to put the BR Engineering BR1 sixth after the first runs, before his teammate's 1:41.919 vaulted the car up to third.
Thomas Laurent had put the No. 3 Rebellion-Gibson R-13 third with a 1:42.640 on the first runs, but Gustavo Menezes' 1:43.086 dropped the car's average to a 1:42.863. The second of the AER-powered BR1s took fifth with a 1:43.005 average from Mikhail Aleshin and Brendon Hartley.
The No. 1 Rebellion qualified by Mathias Beche and Neel Jani took sixth position with a 1:43.015 average.
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