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Alonso (and Toyota) wins Le Mans

NEWS STORY
17/06/2018

Fernando Alonso took a step towards his dream of becoming the second man to win motorsport's Triple Crown when he won the Le Mans 24 Hours race today.

Alonso, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima in the No 8 TS050 Hybrid started from pole position and took the chequered flag after 388 tense and often dramatic laps at the Circuit de la Sarthe to extend their lead in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).

Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez, who led for long periods in the No 7 car, made it a perfect result for Toyota with second place in front of 256,900 fans.

Toyota, which had entered 47 cars at Le Mans prior to this weekend's race and finished on the podium six times, becomes only the second Japanese manufacturer to win at La Sarthe, while Nakajima is the first Japanese driver to win in a Japanese car.

The result is a culmination of intense and determined efforts by Toyota Gazoo Racing colleagues from Higashi-Fuji and Cologne to continually enhance its hybrid-electric technology, which won this weekend's race using 35% less fuel than in 2012, when it returned to endurance racing.

The two TS050 Hybrids were evenly matched throughout the 5,286km race and swapped places several times during a race which featured its share of drama for the leaders.

Two stop-go penalties for the No 8 car, compared to one for the sister car, required an impressive night time stint from Alonso to come back into contention on a day when all drivers performed exceptionally in a high-pressure environment.

A late fuel issue dropped the No 7 car off the lead lap so Nakajima took the chequered flag for the No 8 with a lead of two laps. The No 3 Rebellion finished third, 12 laps behind.

After a nine-week break, Toyota Gazoo Racing will return to action on 17-19 August with the 6 Hours of Silverstone, the third round of the 2018-19 WEC season.

"Finally, we won 24 Hours of Le Mans this year," said Akio Toyoda, President, Toyota Motor Corporation. "Of course this is another step towards the next challenge so I would like to ask your continuous support from now on too. Thank you very much.

"Thank you for driving all out!" Please let me direct these words to our drivers, who drove our cars for the longest distance at Le Mans, finally in our 20th challenge. At the same time, I would like to say the same to our cars, completing 388 laps, approximately 5,300 km.

"And "thank you very much for letting us and our drivers drive all out!" I want to say this to all fans who have supported us for a long time, our partners and suppliers who have battled together with us, and all the team members and the people related to our team. I want to express my sincere appreciation to all."

"I am so proud of everyone in the team for this result," added team president, Hisatake Murata. "It has been our dream to win Le Mans and finally we have achieved it. Thank you so much to everyone for their incredible hard work, team spirit and never-give-up attitude. To win Le Mans for Toyota after so many frustrations and disappointments is a truly magical moment."

"It has been amazing," said Alonso. "We know how important and iconic Le Mans is in the world of motorsport and as a team we achieved an amazing result. Every moment was a reminder of how tough and long this race is, anything can happen so we tried to execute our race and stay calm. Happily everything worked well.

"The race was hard because the two cars were very close, within one minute after 23 hours, so it was tough competitive but fair and very sporting. We wanted a one-two and we achieved that so I am very happy."

"This is definitely the biggest win of my career," added Buemi. "I struggle to realise it right now because in the last few laps I couldn't forget 2016. To finally see the car crossing the line was really special. All the preparation that goes into this day from everyone in the team, when you finally win it, it is something really big so I will enjoy this. Congratulations as well to car #7 who did an amazing job as well."

"It's great to be here finally; it has been a long time," said Nakajmima. "I am almost speechless. I had great team-mates and Toyotoa gave us a very strong car. We finished the race without any issue on both cars so I feel we all deserved to win the race.

"To win this race has been a big dream for all of Toyota since 1985. There have been many people involved in this project so I am proud to be here to represent all that effort."

Le Mans 24 Hours result:

1st #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing 388 laps
2nd #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing + 2 laps
3rd #3 Rebellion Racing (Laurent/Beche/Menezes) + 12 laps
4th #1 Rebellion Racing (Lotterer/Jani/Senna) + 13 laps
5th #26 G-Drive Racing (Rusinov/Vergne/Pizzitola) + 19 laps
6th #36 Signatech Alpine (Lapierre/Negrão/Thiriet) + 21 laps

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by imejl99, 18/06/2018 14:23

"Convenient late fuel issue of the No 7 car. "

Rating: Positive (3)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Rock Doc, 18/06/2018 11:02

"Bit of a hollow victory. No real challenge for the team. Now if Montoya had won in his LMP2 that would have been a victory.

I've nothing against Alonso winning, it is a tough race, but without any competition and a stacked rule deck,this was hardly the iconic 24hr Le Mans victory that people will be talking about for years to come. It might get talked about, but for all the wrong reasons.
"

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

3. Posted by -ape-, 18/06/2018 7:30

"What a joke this "win ".
Like his "win "in Singapore.
Even his 2 two DWC were won in a superior car .
But let down Ferrari when he had to fight for a world title in a superior car by not to try to pass Petrov in Abu dhabi 2010.
But he can sell himself very very wel ...like this nonsense about tripple crown to the journos .
."

Rating: Positive (2)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

4. Posted by FormerF1Fan, 18/06/2018 6:43

"Fambank, what do you prefer? Infantile gamer stuff for 24 hours like Rossi trying to stop Marqués passing by kicking him? Or Piquet junior deliberately driving into a wall?"

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5. Posted by Fambank, 17/06/2018 20:22

"With the absent of any real competition this victory is as valuable as, well as this comment."

Rating: Negative (-2)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

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