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Fernando Alonso wins Le Mans 24 with Toyota

18 June, 2018, 13:08 | Author: Candice Daniels
  • BMW M8 GTE Le Mans 21 830x553

The trio's TS050 Hybrid ran faultlessly throughout, and spent much of the race scrapping with the sister machine of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose-Maria Lopez. With this win, Toyota becomes the second Japanese manufacturer to win outright, after Mazda.

Nakajima - who had clinched the pole position - finished in the vehicle, the Japanese driver enjoying a moment of redemption after a technical problem cruelly denied him and Toyota victory in the closing stages two years ago.

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 auto as Nakajima, who completed the last stint, drove.

Alonso's hopes had appeared to dim as the race entered the early hours, with his vehicle two minutes adrift of the sister Toyota after a stop-go penalty.

The #68 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Team USA auto finished in third place in GTE Pro through the services Joey Hand, Dirk Muller and Sebastien Bourdais, earlier challenging the #91 Rothmans-inspired Porsche for second in an intense battle around the 13.626km-long circuit.

Twice a Monaco Grand Prix victor, he now wants to win the Indianapolis 500.

Dempsey Proton Racing team manager and actor Patrick Dempsey after Matt Campbell's win at Le Mans. Win that and he will join the legendary Graham Hill as only the second driver to win the Triple Crown.

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But in a series of stints in the dead of night, Alonso clawed back the deficit and put the number eight vehicle right back on the tail of the number seven. One of its cars made the finish, albeit well down the order after numerous problems.

Jenson Button, the 2009 F1 world champion, was competing in the non-hybrid LMP1 class for the Russian SMP team.

The eventual third-place finishing vehicle had two trips to the garage in the early morning, including one to fix its floor, while the No. 1 auto had several issues throughout the race.

Three years of poor reliability and performance, and an apparent lack of interest in signing the ageing champion from the top three teams, broadened his outlook beyond F1. Victory at Le Mans as a "Porsche Young Professional" should pave the way for a tidy return to friends and family who made his career possible.

But Toyota insisted that the two cars went into the race with equal chances of winning. GTE Pro saw Porsche back on form with a win for the number 92 911, while GTE Am also saw a Porsche, the Dempsey-Proton Racing auto, come out on top.

Can Alonso now win Indianapolis?

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