Circuit de la Sarthe, Friday 15 June 2018 – TOYOTA GAZOO Racing put on a dominant display yesterday evening to secure a front-row lockout ahead of the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2018. The Japanese manufacturer, aiming to achieve its first victory at the legendary race, will lead the 60-car field past the French Tricolore flag on Saturday 16 June at 15:00 local time. With time at the heart of this twice-around-the-clock contest, Rolex has been an Official Partner and the Official Timepiece of the 24 Hours of Le Mans since 2001. Founded on a mutual quest to challenge the boundaries of human performance and technology, the partnership embodies excellence while celebrating motor sport’s rich history.


After a heavily disrupted second qualifying session, which saw none of the top eight Le Mans Protoype 1 (LMP1) cars improve on their Wednesday night times, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing immediately set about securing pole position in the final round of qualifying. On his first flying lap, Kazuki Nakajima, at the wheel of the No. 8 Toyota, posted a time of 3:15.377 that would remain unbeaten. From here, Nakajima and his teammates, Sébastien Buemi and Fernando Alonso, fine-tuned the set-up and managed traffic in order to maximise the performance of their car ahead of the race. The sister No. 7 car could not match the early pace of the No. 8, ultimately finishing a full 2 seconds slower in the final standings. The fastest non-hybrid car, No. 1 Rebellion Racing, will start third as the team aim to defy the status quo by challenging the Toyotas.


The No. 48 IDEC Sport, having been quickest on Wednesday in Le Mans Protoype 2 (LMP2), secured a fastest time of 3:24.842 to take class pole. With the competition expected to be fierce this weekend in the GT Racing categories, Porsche set the quickest times in both LMGTE Pro and LMGTE Am. The No. 91 Porsche GT Team edged the Pro class by 1.593 seconds in their 17-car field – composed of leading manufacturers from across the automotive world. In LMGTE Am, the Porsche No. 88 Dempsey-Proton Racing proved the form of the entrants, qualifying ahead of four LMGTE Pro cars.

Following qualifying, Rolex Testimonee and nine-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans Tom Kristensen said: “With the grid decided for tomorrow’s race, the anticipation is building for this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. I’m looking forward to seeing how the drama will unfold, as well as how the drivers and teams approach this ultimate test of endurance and perseverance. It’s exciting to see so many world champions and upcoming drivers from across the motor sport family compete at Le Mans – this is a testament to how unique this event is and its position at the very top of the sport.”


The 24 Hours of Le Mans forms an integral part of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) which started last month at the 6 Hours of Spa Francorchamps in Belgium, where Fernando Alonso took his first ever WEC victory in the No. 8 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing. The 2018 – 2019 series will mark an innovative period for WEC as it transitions to conclude with the 24 Hours of Le Mans next year. The extended season will see drivers and teams strive for precision and reliability under extreme pressure, values that align Rolex with endurance racing.

Tomorrow afternoon marks the start of the competitors’ marathon journey towards history, with all those who complete the 24-hour race celebrated for their remarkable achievement. Those who have displayed the absolute determination to succeed are awarded the 24 Hours of Le Mans trophy and the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona timepiece on the top step of the Le Mans podium. Toyota is ideally poised to finally secure their first ever 24 Hours of Le Mans victory but with 24 hours of racing ahead only time will tell who will be crowned the winners in 2018.



The FIA World Endurance Championship will race in Belgium, France, UK, Japan, China and the USA during the 2018 – 2019 season. The 1000 Miles of Sebring makes a highly anticipated return and both the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps and 24 Hours of Le Mans feature twice, with the 2019 edition of Le Mans staging the finale and the crowning moment of the 14-month Championship. In line with Rolex’s passion for endurance racing, the watch brand is the Official Timepiece of the FIA World Endurance Championship and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, as well as Title Sponsor of the Rolex 24 at DAYTONA. Engine speed and reliability, along with driver and team stamina, are tested to the limit during these challenging races, showcasing motor sport at the highest level.



Rolex, a Swiss watch manufacture headquartered in Geneva, is recognized the world over for its expertise and the quality of its products. Its Oyster and Cellini watches, all certified as Superlative Chronometers for their precision, performance and reliability, are symbols of excellence, elegance and prestige. Founded by Hans Wilsdorf in 1905, the brand pioneered the development of the wristwatch and is at the origin of numerous major watchmaking innovations, such as the Oyster, the first waterproof wristwatch, launched in 1926, and the Perpetual rotor self-winding mechanism invented in 1931. Rolex has registered over 400 patents in the course of its history. A truly integrated and independent manufacturing company, Rolex designs, develops and produces in-house all the essential components of its watches, from the casting of the gold alloys to the machining, crafting, assembly and finishing of the movement, case, dial and bracelet. Through philanthropic programmes and a broad palette of sponsorship activities, Rolex is also actively involved in supporting the arts, sports and exploration, and encourages the spirit of enterprise, as well as the conservation of natural environments.


Virginie Chevailler, Rolex SA

+41 22 302 26 19

Grace Mennem, Influence Sports & Media

+44 7471 034 620