Historic win for Toyota at Le Mans

The world’s most famous race saw Toyota take an historic 1-2 win, the first time the manufacturer has made the top step of the podium since entering the World Endurance Championships in 1985. The #8 car of Fernando Alonso, Kazuki Nakajima and Sébastien Buemi took a dominant win two laps ahead of the #7 of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and José Maria Lopez.

The rest of the LMP1 field, non-hybrids, struggled to keep apace and technical problems befell many including SMP’s Jenson Button. This led to a somewhat sterile race on the LMP1 grid, but making it to third step of the podium was the #3 Rebellion Racing of Mathias Beche, Thomas Laurent and Gustavo Menezes, with #1 sister car finishing in fourth place.

 Of the historic win Alonso commented; “It’s amazing, I’m still a little bit in shock right now. It was very stressful at the end when we were all watching. It’s been a very tense 24 hours. Maybe tomorrow, we’ll start to realise! I felt okay in the traffic. Sometimes you’re lucky for a few laps and then sometimes you’re unlucky and you get in a bad loop but the race suited my driving style and it all worked out.”

In LMP2 there was some controversy when post race #26 G-Drive Racing of Roman Rusinov, Andrea Pizzitola and Jean-Eric Vergne was disqualified from the top spot after it was discovered they had breached a technical regulation due to the “non-compliance of a part in the fuel restrictor.” the same applied to #28 TDS Racing Oreca of Francois Perrodo, Matthieu Vaxivierre and Loic Duval. Although the teams have appealed the decision, this promoted the #36 Signatech Alpine Matmut of Nicolas Lapierre, Pierre Thiriet and Andre Negrao to first in class with the #39 Graff of Vincent Capillaire, Jonathan Hirschi and Tristan Gommendy in second place and the #32 United Autosports of Hugo de Sadeleer, Will Owen and Juan Pablo Montoya completing the revised podium.

But it was in LMGTE where the racing really lit up and Porsche secured a fantastic 1-2 Pro class win in the German marque’s 70th year. Taking the win was fan favourite the #92 of Michael Christensen, Kévin Estre and Laurens Vanthoor.

Porsche’s commemorative liveries. pics copyright and courtesy of Porsche.de

The car which was liveried in the “pink pig” scheme chosen by the drivers and seen at Le Mans on the 917/20 in 1971 crossed the finish line one lap ahead of the #91 Rothmans replica liveried Porsche of Gianmaria Bruni, Richard Lietz and Frederic Makowiecki, with the #68 Ford Chip Ganassi of Joey Hand, Dirk Müller and Sébastien Bourdais in third place. The Fords, Ferraris and BMW’s gave the most competition to the class winners but ultimately lost out due to penalties and technical problems. The #95 Aston Martin Racing, only a week old and Le Mans its second race, of Nicki Thiim, Marco Sorenson and Darren Turner finished 8th in class while last years LMGTE winner Jonny Adam aboard the #97 Aston Martin finished 13th, a tricky weekend for Aston Martin.

LMGTE Am saw victory for Patrick Dempsey’s Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche team #77 of Matt Campbell, Christian Ried and Julian Andlauer who finished just ahead of #54 Spirit of Race Ferrari of Thomas Flohr, Francesco Castellacci and Giancarlo Fisichella. Dempsey commented “Qualifying was chaotic. I was sure something would happen in the race, but I have never had a race go so smoothly before.  These young drivers had such a level of class. These are young stars emerging! Imagine, you’re in your first race here at Le Mans, at 18 years of age, and he took the lead! “

The Dempsey-Proton sister car #88 had led the class until early on Sunday morning when a spin off took it out of the race.

The #85 Keating Motorsports Ferrari of Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Luca Stolz finished in third place.

The next World Endurance Championship round is at Silverstone August 17th/19th.

Images ©Andy Fitzpatrick and Porsche.De