Toyota wins the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans

Jun 18, 2018, 19:08
Toyota wins the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans

Toyota has claimed its maiden victory at the Le Mans 24 Hours and Fernando Alonso has moved one step closer to capturing motorsport's "Triple Crown".

Toyota's win is just the second by a Japanese manufacturer, following Mazda's success in 1991.

When the chequered flag fell, the #8 Toyota had completed 388 laps, two more than the #7.

Fernando Alonso was clearly in the mood for racing at Le Mans, even offering to continue his night driving stint to his team saying he has the 'rhythm of the night'. "It needs to be every three weeks", joked Alonso, who looked to be in trouble when Buemi was penalized for speeding in a caution zone late Saturday.

Toyota, who competed with a hybrid auto in the top LMP1 class, proved too strong for their rivals running non-hybrids and completed a one-two when their number seven vehicle - shared by Briton Mike Conway, Japanese Kamui Kobayashi and Argentinian Jose Maria Lopez - finished second.

The tension in the Toyota garage was palpable as the clock ticked down, Alonso and Buemi linking arms with other team members and praying that there was to be no repeat of past nightmares. For much of the first six hours, the two Toyota LMP1 cars traded places and by the seventh hour of the race, the #7 auto had built a lead exceeding two minutes.

"It's an fantastic feeling", said Alonso, after watching Nakajima drive the final stint and take the chequered flag.

"When you look at the past, 2016 in the last lap, and Kazuki was going to be in the auto for the last few laps so lots of emotions really".

As the clock ticked past 24 hours, the relief was visible on all the faces of the Toyota crew in the pit and the winning drivers as they completed a victory lap with Alonso and Buemi sitting on the vehicle as Nakajima, who completed the last stint, drove.

The number three non-hybrid Rebellion R13 vehicle - driven by Frenchman Thomas Laurent, Switzerland's Mathias Beche and American Gustavo Menezes - finished third and 12 laps behind.

"It was a tense 24 hours, with two cars within a minute for most of the race".

Jenson Button, the 2009 F1 world champion, was competing in the non-hybrid LMP1 class for the Russian SMP team. "I don't think too much about how competitive we will be next year as it is impossible to predict: It is just about the sport".