Fernando Alonso's #8 Toyota Racing seals Le Mans pole

Toyota GR Super Sport Concept

Toyota have never won at Le Mans but they are the overwhelming favourites because they are effectively the only competitor in the LMP1 hybrid class after Porsche pulled out at the end of last season.

Having featured earlier in the day, Alonso got into the auto with an hour remaining of the third and final qualifying session.

Unlike the night before, when he visited the circuit at one of its busiest points, Alonso spent much of his time in the auto as light rain fell on the circuit, meaning most other cars remained in the garage. The top three in class had remained unchanged from first qualifying.

Toyota, now the only major manufacturer entered in the top LMP1 category after champions Porsche quit, have only themselves to beat but can take nothing for granted after losing out in 2017 due to unreliability.

Alonso, the two-time Formula One world champion, will make his debut at the event as he pursues his dream of achieving motor racing's Triple Crown: winning the Monaco Grand Prix, Indianapolis 500 and Le Mans.

Alessandro Pier Guidi promoted the #51 Ferrari 488 GTE Evo to fourth in the final session with a time of 3m49.494s, demoting the #68 Ford to fifth and denying the Blue Oval a lockout of the second row.

Jenson Button, the 2009 Formula One world champion, will start seventh for the Russian-backed SMP Racing team's No. 11 auto.

Alonso and Toyota are the team tipped to win in France with the Japanese manufacturer the only entrants with a LM P1 hybrid vehicle. That's a question that has to be asked about Toyota as it bids for an elusive first victory in the French enduro this year.

Toyota GR Super Sport Concept

But the Japanese team is taking nothing for granted, having seen victory slip from its grasp several times at Le Mans in the past - most memorably in 2016, when its auto heartbreakingly ground to a halt at the start-finish line with only minutes remaining.

Tom Dillmann had set a lap below the 3m21s barrier on Wednesday evening that would have given the ENSO CLM P1/01-Nissan sixth on the grid, but that time was disallowed for excessive fuel consumption.

They may lack grunt on the circuit's massive Mulsanne straight, but LMP2 cars have proven to be competitive in the past.

Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya, already a Monaco Grand Prix victor and Indianapolis 500 champion, will start 24th in the United Autosports entry that is competing in the lower LMP2 category. Still, the vehicle won the LMP2 class and finished second overall.

Again, it was a tough outing for CEFC TRSM Racing.

Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya could beat Alonso to the Triple Crown having already won in Monaco and Indianapolis but he is in a slower LMP2 auto so would need a wave of reliability issues to plague the cars ahead of him.

Last, but certainly not least, is the GTE (Grand Touring Endurance) class.

They are not identical to their road auto counterparts, though, as each vehicle is fitted with specially developed engines and an assortment of wings to help them generate grip at high speeds. Lap time improvements throughout the field were posted within the opening 30 minutes of running.

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