Redemption for Toyota as it makes history at Le Mans
Toyota re-wrote Japanese endurance racing history today by taking its first victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans – a long-awaited event for the manufacturer, and redemption for the disappointments of recent years.
Toyota Gazoo Racing claimed a commanding 1-2 result, with Fernando Alonso winning on his debut at the world’s most famous endurance race. By doing so, the Spaniard - who together with Kazuki Nakajima and Sébastien Buemi - drove magnificently throughout the 24 hours in this second round of the FIA WEC Super Season, also made a further claim on the legendary ‘Triple Crown’ in motorsport.
Nakajima was behind the wheel of the No. 8 Toyota TS050 HYBRID as it took the chequered flag two laps ahead of the No.7 entry driven by Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and José Maria Lopez. The two cars had been running closely together through much of the 24 hours but late-race drama and penalties saw the No.7 drop back in the final hours.
The LMP1 non-hybrids were unable to match the Toyotas, and many of the new cars experienced technical issues during the race, but Rebellion Racing’s Mathias Beche, Thomas Laurent and Gustavo Menezes took the final podium place and the No.1 crew came home in fourth. It was Laurent’s second podium finish in a row, Le Mans treating the young Frenchman particularly well! The No.5 CEFC TRSM Racing Ginetta G60-LT P1 Mecachrome was the only other classified LMP1 car.
SMP Racing, which showed early pace with the two BR Engineering BR1-AERs, failed to get either of its two cars to the finish, with engine failure forcing Jenson Button out of the race with less than one hour to go.
The event, which was started by Rafael Nadal in front of a host of stars and celebrities, attracted a 256,900-strong crowd.
G-Drive Racing continue with its winning ways
Following wins at Spa (WEC) and Monza (ELMS), the No.26 G-Drive Racing ORECA 07 Gibson took a commanding LMP2 class victory today. Jean-Eric Vergne, Roman Rusinov and Andrea Pizzitola were all first-time winners of the French endurance classic and the TDS-run car had a flawless run to the flag after the opening hour.
Frenchman Vergne took the car over the finish line to record victory two laps ahead of the No.36 Signatech Alpine Matmut entry of Nicolas Lapierre, Andre Negrão and Pierre Thiriet. As well as being a first Le Mans class win for the drivers, it was also the first for G-Drive and the TDS team.
Fourth on track and third in the WEC points classification, due to podium finisher Graff SO24 not being a WEC entrant, was the TDS Racing entry of Francois Perrodo, Matthieu Vaxivière and Loïc Duval which made a late charge for the podium place.
The next round of the WEC Super Season will be the 6 Hours of Silverstone on Sunday 19 August at the home of British Motor Racing.
For all provisional results and championship points click HERE