Brendon Hartley topped Toyota Gazoo Racing teammate Kamui Kobayashi to claim pole for tomorrow morning’s 8 Hours of Bahrain, where he can claim a fourth World Endurance Championship drivers title.
Qualifying fastest also sees Hartley and driving partners Sebastien Buemi and Ryo Hirakawa gain a sole championship point, extending their lead to 16 points over teammates Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez.
“I was determined to be on pole, and I am so happy to achieve it,” said Hartley. “The car felt great. The team did an amazing job to get all the settings right for me.
“It’s a tricky track for qualifying because you only really get one lap, so everything has to come together. My lap didn’t feel perfect, but it was very clean. It is an important pole because of the World Championship point. That’s why the team put a lot of emphasis on qualifying and why we used the medium tyres.
“The point could be crucial because it means even if car #7 wins, we can finish third and still win the title. But we don’t approach the race any different to normal; we have to go for the victory. The race starts have been action-packed this year, so starting from pole is the place to be.”
Hartley’s best lap of 1:46.564 topped Kobayashi by nearly half a second, with Toyota securing a front-row lockout.
Starting third will be Cadillac Racing’s V-Series.R, which features New Zealand’s Earl Bamber, Alex Lynn and Richard Westbrook. Lynn took on qualifying duties for the teaming, falling two-tenths off the pace of the second Toyota.
Kevin Estre, who partnered Matt Payne in this year’s Supercars enduros, put the first of the Penske Porsche 963s onto the second row, in fourth, with a late flying lap, topping the fastest of the Ferraris, being the #50 of Antonio Fuoco, by just 0.027 seconds.
Ferrari lockout the third row, with the #51 AF Corse Le Mans winners starting sixth.
It’s an all-Porsche fourth row, with the second Porsche Penske, the #5, joined by customer team Proton Competition.
Behind them is another 963 of Hertz Team Jota, starting from ninth, next to the first of the Peugeots.
The #94 Peugeot and Floyd Vanwall Racing Team round out the 12-strong Hypercar field.
Kiwi Tom Blomqvist qualified as the fastest LMP2 competitor for United Autosports, topping Alpine ORECA’s Charles Milesi by nearly three-tenths.
The 8 Hours of Bahrain begins at 11.30 pm this evening and will be shown live on Sky Sport 5.
Header Image: Toyota Gazoo Racing