Because Toyota was really the only company to offer factory support to an LMP1 car, their two cars were heavy favorites to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It would come down to either the #7 or #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing with their powerful hybrid engines and were set to win overall if they didn’t crash or have mechanical issues. And amid a couple slight issues throughout, the two Toyotas finished 1-2 with the team of Fernando Alonso, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima taking the win by 10 laps over the third place team.
This win was especially important to Fernando Alonso on his quest to win the Triple Crown of Motorsport. Already with a Monaco Grand Prix win, Alonso attempted to win the Indianapolis 500 last year but had mechanical issues toward the end of the race. This year, Alonso signed with Toyota to compete in the World Endurance Championship on top of his Formula 1 duties with McLaren to prep for a challenge at Le Mans.
With this win, Alonso became the 14th driver to win two legs of the Triple Crown (Monaco/F1 World Championship, Le Mans and Indianapolis) and is just the second active driver to have two out of three (along with Juan Pablo Montoya). Montoya just needs Le Mans (he finished 9th overall, competing in the LMP2 class) and Alonso needs Indianapolis to join Graham Hill as Triple Crown winners. Alonso is likely heading to IndyCar sooner rather than later to go for the ‘500.
The win was also sweet redemption for Toyota after a heartbreaking loss in the final minutes of the 2016 race. They led almost the entire race with the car coming to a rest with mechanical issues on the final lap. Two years later, Toyota finally got back to the top step of the podium at Le Mans for the first time ever.
Other class winners include G-Drive Racing’s team of Jean-Eric Vergne, Andrea Pizzitola and Roman Rusinov in LMP2, the Porsche GT factory team of Michael Christensen, Kevin Estre and Laurens Vanthoor in GTE Pro and the Dempsey-Proton team of Julien Andlauer, Matt Campbell and Christian Ried in GTE Am. Dempsey-Proton Racing is co-owned by former Grey’s Anatomy actor Patrick Dempsey and this is his first Le Mans class win as a team owner.
[Photo: Getty Images]