Toyota Gazoo Racing has scored victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley giving the Japanese manufacturer a hat-trick of wins in the twice-around-the-clock endurance classic.
The No. 8 crew emerged on top after issues struck both of the Toyota TS050 Hybrids in an attrition-filled race.
A left-front puncture from Buemi put the car off-sequence on pit stops in the opening hour, although overheating brakes forced the No. 8 Toyota into the garage some six hours later to replace a damaged brake duct.
Having lost two laps at the time, Hartley took over the lead just past halfway when the then-leading No. 7 Toyota went into the garage with turbo failure.
An issue with the exhaust manifold led to the No. 7 Toyota crew changing the right-side turbo, although costing the pole-sitting entry of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez more than 30 minutes and dropping it down to fourth at the time.
It gave clear sailing for the No. 8 entry to claim its third consecutive Le Mans victory with Buemi and Nakajima, who took the car across the line.
Hartley, meanwhile, earned his second Le Mans win in the last four years, marking the Kiwi’s first with Toyota.
The No. 8 Toyota finished five laps clear of the No. 1 Rebellion R13 Gibson of Gustavo Menezes, Bruno Senna and Norman Nato, which finished second overall.
It came after a relatively trouble-free run for the Swiss squad’s full-season FIA World Endurance Championship entry, which only made one trip to the garage in the 19th hour.
Rebellion was on track for a double podium finish until an off-course excursion from Louis Deletraz at Indianapolis, forcing an early stop and bodywork change with 1 hour and 5 minutes to go.
Persistent clutch issues led to a subsequent trip to the garage, handing third in the race to the delayed No. 7 Toyota.
Deletraz and co-drivers Romain Dumas and Nathanael Berthon finished fourth.
The No. 4 ByKolles Racing ENSO CLM P1/01 Gibson was the only retirement in the class, having dropped out following an accident by BMW factory driver Bruno Spengler in the seventh hour.
Spengler limped the damaged LMP1 non-hybrid back to the pits but the damage was deemed too severe.
It came after the Austrian-flagged team lost seven laps early with an alternator issue.
RESULTS: 24H Le Mans