On its 20th attempt, Toyota has finally won the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Japanese automaker nabbed the top two positions, leading other competitors by a considerable margin.
The No. 8 TS050 Hybrid took the checkered flag after 388 laps around the Circuit de la Sarthe in France. Behind the wheel was Fernando Alonso, two-time F1 world champion and a Le Mans rookie. Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima also piloted the race car to victory after enduring a number of upsets with Toyota in the past.
The No. 7 car TS050 Hybrid led for long stretches but suffered a fuel issue late in the game. By the end of the race, it had trailed off just two laps behind the winning car to score second place. Rebellion Racing took third place, 12 laps behind Toyota.
Toyota’s victory marks the second time a Japanese automaker has won Le Mans, the first time being Mazda in 1991. Toyota’s No. 8 car had started from pole position, as Toyota had in 1999, 2014, and 2016.
With Audi out of the picture, Toyota has had a better chance of winning Le Mans in the last few years. But 2016 saw an unfortunate failure on the final lap. In 2017, Toyota lost its shot at victory again. Its race-leading No. 7 TS050 Hybrid had a clutch problem at the tenth hour, and then another Toyota was hit from behind and caught on fire. A third car had an issue with its front motor but managed to place eighth.