Aussie Briscoe expects pace at Le Mans

Australian driver Ryan Briscoe is backing his Ford to go the distance at the Le Mans 24 Hours race. (AAP)

Australian driver Ryan Briscoe has qualified fifth fastest in the GTE Pro class for the Le Mans 24 Hours in France.

Australian driver Ryan Briscoe is backing his Ford to go the distance at the Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race after qualifying fifth fastest in the GTE Pro class.

Briscoe, alongside co-drivers New Zealand's Scott Dixon and Briton Richard Westbrook, recorded a top lap of three minutes and 51.232 seconds around the Circuit de la Sarthe in France's north-east ahead of Saturday's race.

They were 0.395 seconds behind pacesetters, Aston Martin's Darren Turner, Jonathan Adam and Daniel Serra.

Ford Performance's global director Dave Pericak described the qualifying showing as disappointing, lamenting a lack of pace.

However, Briscoe remains positive the race plan would come off for the 85th edition of the race, where durability matters as much as speed.

"We definitely had a go at qualifying tonight. It was the first time we ran with new tyres and low fuel," Briscoe said.

"We've always found this car comes alive when we drop the fuel out of it, so it felt great; the balance was nice.

"I was really pleased, but obviously there's a lot of competition.

"It was quick at the time but we're fifth now so I think it's going to be a tough race and hopefully we'll have the pace to stay at the front during the race."

Fellow Australian James Allen and teammates Franck Matelli and Richard Bradley qualified 13th fastest for Graff Oreca in the LMP2 class.

Porsche driver Nicholas Foster is the other Australian in the race, qualifying second-last in the GTE Am division with British co-drivers Michael Wainwright and Benjamin Barker.

In the top-ranked LMP1 class, former Formula One driver Kamui Kobayashi smashed the Le Mans lap record in qualifying for Toyota.

The Japanese, sharing the number seven TS050 hybrid car with Britain's Mike Conway and Frenchman Stephane Sarrazin, posted a time of 3min 14.791 sec during Thursday's second session.

The lap, at an average speed of 251.882kph, was more than two seconds quicker than the previous record of 3:16.887 set in 2015.

"Mike Conway told me the car was perfect, so I set off fully confident ... I had 100 per cent confidence in the car and when you're in that frame of mind, you can do great things," Kobayashi said.

"It surpassed all our hopes. It's rare to be able to say this, but it was a perfect lap.

"When I saw the time as I crossed the line, I said to myself, wow!"

The number eight Toyota, to be driven by Britain's Anthony Davidson, Japan's Kazuki Nakajima and Switzerland's Sebastien Buemi, qualified second in a time of 3:17.128 with Nakajima at the wheel.

Source AAP

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch