From pit lane to podium
From pit lane to podium

As the weekend rolled into qualifying Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi were nominated for the session in the #7 TS050 HYBRID and took pole position with a 1min 54.583secs average of their fastest laps during a qualifying session which was delayed by 45 minutes due to two red flag periods.

Mike Conway was pleased with the way qualifying went and knew the challenge from the sister car was going to be hard to beat. “They were a strong couple of laps between me and Kamui. The car felt good on my lap so I just let it do its thing really. It’s nice to get that point on the board for pole position and to start from the front row. Our team-mates kept us honest as always and it’s great for the team to be one-two in qualifying; we’ll try to convert it into a win tomorrow.”

However, the pole position-winning #7 TS050 HYBRID of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López was forced to start the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps from the pit lane after an administrative error resulted in the cancellation of the car’s qualifying lap times.

An incorrect identification number for the car’s fuel flow meter was declared for the #7 prior to qualifying. This subsequently emerged during post-qualifying scrutineering. As a result, the car will start from the pit lane, one lap behind the field.

The race began under blue skies and Mike started the race for the #7 from the pitlane and a lap down by did a fantastic job to take the #7 car up the order to sixth by the time of the first pit stops which was followed by the first safety car of the race.

As the #7 continued its impressive progress through the field, the team had made impressive progress and started the second half of the race in second position, around a minute behind the leading #8 when José María took over from Kamui at the next pit stop.

The two TS050 HYBRIDs tightened their grip on the race as the last hour approached, with Mike preparing for the final sprint to the chequered flag as the gap to the sister #8 cut to just six seconds with 50 minutes remaining.

Fernando and Mike stayed at the wheel through a final fuel stop with 25 minutes to go, after which the team chose to hold positions and avoid any unnecessary risks after over 1,100km of flat-out racing.

As they crossed the finishing line, the #7 TS050 HYBRID of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López completed a remarkable comeback by finishing second, just 1.444secs behind, despite starting one lap behind from the pit lane due to a qualifying penalty.

That result meant TOYOTA, therefore, leads the teams’ World Championships going into the all-important Le Mans 24 Hours on 16-17 June.

Mike Conway reflected on a fantastic start to the season for the team.

“It was weird starting from the pit lane but we knew what we had to do. We had some help from the safety car periods and the full course yellows, which went our way and helped us to get into the fight with the other LMP1 ones. Kamui and José did a great job again today. It’s disappointing not to win but a one-two is the perfect result for the team.”

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