Alonso wins Le Mans to edge closer to Triple Crown

Doug Mendoza
June 18, 2018

Nakajima then took the lead and with Mike Conway incurring a stop and go penalty for Toyota No7, Alonso's team was able to pull away finish just over a lap ahead.

Toyota is the only manufacturer with a team in the World Endurance Championships after the withdrawals of Audi and Porsche in the last two years.

The Spaniard shared the number eight TS050 hybrid with Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan's Kazuki Nakajima, who had taken pole position on Thursday and drove the final stint to the chequered flag.

Although the final rankings may make it look like an easy win, with some substantial leads, it wasn't the case as Toyota's number eight was involved in an early crash with a Rebellion vehicle. The Toyota Gazoo racing team finally managed to score a victory at the legendary 24 Hour race. It eventually overtook its sister auto and built up a comfortable lead, and took the win completing 388 laps overall.

Alonso celebrated his 300th F1 Grand Prix in June but has not won since he was at Ferrari five years ago.

Only Englishman Graham Hill has won all three classic races in the entire history of motorsport.

The presence of a sporting icon at Le Mans guaranteed the race, Toyota and the WEC far greater worldwide attention than had it been six lesser-known drivers competing in what was effectively a private Toyota battle. Alonso strapped himself in and incredibly managed to claw back a huge deficit to give the #8 vehicle a fighting chance.

There was no joy for another former F1 champion, though.

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And Kobayashi missed a pit stop in the penultimate hour and had to complete much of a lap on electrical power alone because he did not have enough fuel.

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.

Their work on reliability over the winter has paid off with no sign of the mechanical failures that had plagued the team since 2012.

His auto went in to Le Mans as strong favourite and the classic event has now been ticked off in clinical style.

"I went there (the Indy 500) previous year without any particular objective".

"I can't really describe it", said Buemi, who was also Nakajima's team mate in 2016, when asked how it felt to win at last.

He will be back in action for McLaren at the French Grand Prix next week, with the race returning to the calendar for the first time since 2008.

Other reports by GizPress

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