Toyota Gazoo Racing has claimed a commanding 1-2 victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with Fernando Alonso winning on his race debut.
It marked the manufacturer’s long-awaited first Le Mans triumph and only the second Japanese automaker to claim overall honors in the twice-around-the-clock enduro following Mazda’s win in 1991.
Kazuki Nakajima took the No. 8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid to a two-lap victory over the sister entry driven by Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez, following late-race drama and penalties for the No. 7 car.
The winning margin was padded by fuel-related issues for Kobayashi, who missed his pit window and completed an additional lap on low power mode with 1 hour and 38 minutes to go.
Kobayashi was given a pair of ten-second penalties in the closing hour for exceeding the amount of allowed fuel and going over the 11-lap stint length limit.
It ultimately did not affect the finishing order, as Kobayashi had been running second at the time, and was unlikely to challenge the sister entry.
Two-time Formula One world champion Alonso, who starred during an overnight stint, shared top honors with Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi.
The No. 8 Toyota, which completed 388 laps, held control from the 16th hour, with the pair of hybrid entries never relinquishing the lead from the start of the race.
As expected, the LMP1 non-hybrids were no match for the Toyotas, with the No. 3 Rebellion R13 Gibson finishing a distant 12 laps behind in third overall.
It came after a lengthy trip to the garage in Hour 13 to replace the car’s floor, an issue that also struck the No. 1 car of Bruno Senna, Neel Jani and Andre Lotterer, who collided with the No. 10 DragonSpeed BR Engineering BR1 Gibson of Ben Hanley on the race’s opening lap.
Mathias Beche, Thomas Laurent and Gustavo Menezes shared driving duties of the podium-finishing No. 3 Rebellion, with the sister car coming home fourth overall.
Like the No. 7 Toyota, the No. 1 Rebellion also faced two final-hour penalties for fuel overconsumption and stint length.
The No. 5 CEFC TRSM Racing Ginetta G60-LT P1 Mecachrome was the only other classified LMP1 car in 43rd overall, following a troubled debut run for the British-built prototype.
Manor’s other entry was abandoned in the 12th hour after it stopped on track with electrical issues.
Accidents Mar Non-Hybrid Hopes
SMP Racing, which showed early pace with its pair of AER-powered BR1s, failed to get either of its cars to the finish, with engine failure forcing Jenson Button out of the race with less than one hour to go.
It came after multiple delays to the No. 11 car, which battled a sensor-related issue in the second hour that initially put it more than 40 laps down.
An accident for Matevos Isaakyan in the 9th hour, meanwhile, ended the No. 17 BR1’s charge.
DragonSpeed’s BR1 Gibson also was also forced out following an accident by Hanley with seven hours to go after alternator gremlins and an issue with the Dallara-built car’s floor.
The No. 4 ByKolles ENSO CLM P1/01 NISMO was the race’s first retirement when Dominik Kraihamer crashed out at the Porsche Curves in the fifth hour.
RESULTS: 24H Le Mans