Trio win 24-hour classic race by two laps for Toyota as Neel Jani finishes fourth.
Fernando Alonso has completed the second leg of motorsport’s Triple Crown after he won the classic Le Mans 24-hour race alongside Switzerland’s Sebastien Buemiand Kazuki Nakajima for Toyota’s first ever win.
The trio managed to hold off the other Toyota Gazoo Racing car of Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez and Mike Conway in the LMP1 class by just two laps with Rebellion Racing’s Thomas Laurent, Mathias Beche and Gustavo Menezes 12 laps down by the end. Here is all you need to know:
– Alonso has made no secret of the fact that he wants to join Briton Graham Hill as the only drivers in history to complete the motorsport Triple Crown of the Monaco Grand Prix in Formula 1, Le Mans in endurance racing and the Indy 500 in the Verizon IndyCar Series.
– The Spaniard won the Monaco GP in 2006 for Renault and 2007 for McLaren before switching his sights to the Indy 500 where he could only finish 24th in 2017.
– He moved his focus to the FIA World Endurance Championship for 2018 with victory at the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps followed by this Le Mans win.
– After starting on pole position, it was nip and tuck between the two Toyotas before Buemi was penalised with a 60-second stop-and-go penalty for speeding in a caution zone shortly after night fell on Saturday forcing Alonso and Nakajima to claw back the other Toyota.
– The trio, though, completed an astonishing 388 laps in their hybrid Toyota to take the LMP1 crown with Japan’s Nakajima the man to bring the car home.
– Nakajima stopped just past the finish line to greet an emotional Alonso and Buemi, who hopped on the car to celebrate a maiden Le Mans win for all three drivers.
– Thirty-six-year-old Alonso revealed, “Let’s see if I can achieve the Indy 500 soon.”
– Former Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Buemi added, “So tough to watch. Minutes felt like hours. Until the car crossed the line with Kazuki, I could not believe it.”
– Nakajima explained, “We had a bad experience in 2016 (his car lost power when leading on the final lap), so I had to be really focused until the chequered flag.”