Track limits penalty for Giovinazzi puts Kobayashi’s Toyota on pole at Spa

WEC Hypercar

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Toyota claimed pole position for tomorrow’s Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, but not in the straightforward manner many expected from the team which has dominated the Hypercar category early this season.

Kamui Kobayashi put the number seven Toyota GR010 Hybrid on provisional pole with less than three minutes to go in the 15-minute session. But just as in Sebring, the two Ferrari 499Ps were every bit as quick over a single lap.

Antonio Giovinazzi in the number 51 Ferrari didn’t look like a threat for pole after he spun on his own at the bottom of La Source, and got stuck in the middle of the circuit while trying to drive away. But in the last minute of qualifying, Giovinazzi put together a blistering final sector to take the top spot away from pole position with a lap time of 2’00.777.

What would have been Ferrari’s second Hypercar pole in three races was short-lived, however, as Giovinazzi had his best time deleted for exceeding track limits at the exit of Malmedy (turn seven). While the excursion did not aid his lap – in fact, Giovinazzi lost time skipping over the gravel – it was still a breach of a zero-tolerance policy as all four of the Ferrari’s wheels strayed across the white line.

This meant that the 2’00.812 from Kobayashi would be good enough for pole position, giving the number seven Toyota he shares with Mike Conway, and Jose Maria Lopez its first pole of the season and Toyota’s second in a row.

But while one Toyota will start at the front of the Hypercar grid, the number eight car of Brendon Hartley, Sebastien Buemi, and Ryo Hirakawa will start at the back of the 13-car Hypercar grid after Hartley crashed two minutes into the session.

While trying to build the temperature in its tyres, Hartley’s car got unstable at the top of Raidillon, spun, and crashed into the tyre barriers. While Hartley was able to walk away, some observers used the nine-minute red flag to point the blame of the incident squarely at the WEC’s new rules prohibiting any sort of tyre warming devices – in the latest of a string of qualifying accidents from drivers on cold tyres. A large gust of wind which rushed through at the moment that Hartley passed through the corner, would not have helped the Kiwi driver maintain control of his vehicle.

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Behind the number seven Toyota, the two Ferraris qualified second and third, led by the number 50 of Miguel Molina ahead of Giovinazzi. Molina was the provisional pole winner early on with a time of 2’00.836, and was going faster on his next lap until he ran wide at the exit of Stavelot – stuck behind the turbulent wake of the Frederic Makowiecki’s Porsche 963.

The Chip Ganassi Racing-run number two Cadillac Racing V-Series.R of Earl Bamber qualified fourth, best of the LMDh spec cars – and just two-tenths of a second back of the pole-winning Toyota. Cadillac Racing brought a second car to Spa in preparation for the upcoming 24 Hours of Le Mans – Sebastien Bourdais qualified it in fifth place.

Kevin Estre was sixth-fastest in the number six Porsche Penske Motorsport 963. The just-delivered, customer-run number 38 Team Jota Porsche of Will Stevens qualified seventh ahead of its debut race.

Glickenhaus Racing won the battle of the non-hybrid privateers as Olivier Pla qualified eighth in the 007, over a second and a half ahead of the Vanwall Vandervell 680 of Tom Dillmann in 12th. Peugeot’s struggles to unlock pace from the 9X8 Hybrid continued. Jean-Eric Vergne in number 93 and Gustavo Menezes in 94 were only ninth and 11th respectively, split by the number five Porsche of Makowiecki.

Tom Blomqvist gave the number 23 United Autosports Oreca 07 its second pole position of the season in LMP2, after his 2022 IMSA Sportscar Series champion co-driver Oliver Jarvis put it on pole back at Sebring. Louis Deletraz qualified second in the number 41 Team WRT Oreca, giving the renowned Belgian team a pole position in its home race.

In LMGTE Am, Ahmad al-Harthy of Oman stunned the field with a string of blistering lap times. He put the number 25 ORT by TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage on the pole by nearly two seconds in a red flag-interrupted session. Sarah Bovy was finally able to get the better of Ben Keating in qualifying, but the number 85 Iron Dames Porsche 911 RSR will start second in class again for the third straight round. PJ Hyett walked away after crashing his number 56 Team Project 1 Porsche at the top of Raidillon, which brought out the red flag mid-way through the class’s 15-minute session.

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Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps Hypercar qualifying results

17Hypercar (Hybrid)ToyotaToyota GR010 HybridMike Conway/Kamui Kobayashi/Jose Maria Lopez2’00.812
250Hypercar (Hybrid)Ferrari AF CorseFerrari 499PAntonio Fuoco/Miguel Molina/Nicklas Nielsen2’00.836
351Hypercar (Hybrid)Ferrari AF CorseFerrari 499PAlessandro Pier Guidi/James Calado/Antonio Giovinazzi2’00.973
42Hypercar (Hybrid)CadillacCadillac V-Series.REarl Bamber/Alex Lynn/Richard Westbrook2’01.043
53Hypercar (Hybrid)CadillacCadillac V-Series.RSebastien Bourdais/Renger van der Zande/Jack Aitken2’02.138
66Hypercar (Hybrid)Porsche PenskePorsche 963Kevin Estre/Andre Lotterer/Laurens Vanthoor2’02.306
738Hypercar (Hybrid)JotaPorsche 963Antonio Felix da Costa/Will Stevens/Yifei Ye2’02.907
8708HypercarGlickenhausGlickenhaus 007Romain Dumas/Oliveir Pla/Franck Mailleux2’02.960
993Hypercar (Hybrid)PeugeotPeugeot 9X8Paul di Resta/Mikkel Jensen/Jean-Eric Vergne2’03.217
105Hypercar (Hybrid)Porsche PenskePorsche 963Dane Cameron/Michael Christensen/Frederic Makowiecki2’03.650
1194Hypercar (Hybrid)PeugeotPeugeot 9X8Loic Duval/Gustavo Menezes/Nico Mueller2’03.879
124HypercarFloyd VanwallVanwall Vandervell 680Tom Dillmann/Esteban Guerrieri/Jacques Villeneuve2’04.614
138Hypercar (Hybrid)ToyotaToyota GR010 HybridSebastien Buemi/Brendon Hartley/Ryo Hirakawa

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Author information

RJ O'Connell
Motorsport has been a lifelong interest for RJ, both virtual and ‘in the carbon’, since childhood. RJ picked up motorsports writing as a hobby...

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3 comments on “Track limits penalty for Giovinazzi puts Kobayashi’s Toyota on pole at Spa”

  1. the table in the article does not contain the laptimes under Time @rjoconnell89

    1. @alfa145 That should display correctly now

  2. I wish Kobayashi had gotten a bit more time in F1. He made a lot of aggro moves, and was always an exciting driver to watch.

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