It all came together for Kobayashi in the No.7 Toyota TS050 during the second qualifying session for the 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours, with the Japanese driver smashing the lap record.
Earlier in Q2, Mike Conway had improved the No.7’s pole lap with a 3:18.51 before the red flags came out after 20 minutes for the crashed No.33 Euroasia Motorsport LMP2 car.
When the session got back going again, Kobayashi headed straight out on track. With fresh medium tyres, a tailwind on the straights, headwind through the Porsche Curves and no traffic, it was the perfect time for a lap.
Kobayashi ended up blitzing the pole position time with a staggering 3:14.791, which has proved to be a hugely significant lap in Le Mans history.
It’s not only 2.096 seconds quicker than the 2015 Circuit de la Sarthe lap record set by Neel Jani’s Porsche, but the lap’s also the best set at Le Mans since 1989.
That’s when the chicanes were added to the Mulsanne Straight. It also had the highest average speed since Hans-Joachim Stuck’s 1985 record of 251.815km/h, with Kobayashi putting in 251.9km/h.
Of course, the Toyota garage went mad after the lap, which is so much quicker than anything seen at Le Mans over the week so far.
There’s still one more qualifying session, run at night, to decide pole position but it’s looking very good for Toyota and Kobayashi after that blistering time.