Toyota ends years of heartache by winning Le Mans 24 Hours Race

IMSA at Le Mans Ford to start third in GTE Pro			Image by LePage  LAT

Auto number 8 consisting of Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Fernando Alonso crossed the finish line first while its sister vehicle driven by Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez came in second.

"Le Mans once a year is not enough!"

Toyota made history this past weekend when it clinched a maiden victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Alonso, a double Monaco Grand Prix victor and twice F1 world champion, is aiming for the "Triple Crown of Motorsport", and the Indianapolis 500 is now the only box remaining to be ticked. Kobayashi qualified his vehicle in second place, exactly two minutes behind Nakajima, but it should be noted that Kobayashi still holds the all-time qualifying lap record from his 2017 run.

But in a series of stints in the dead of night, Alonso clawed back the deficit and put the number eight auto right back on the tail of the number seven.

The result was never really in any doubt as the number 8 vehicle qualified on pole and led the race from the outset.

With a one-two finish they became only the second Japanese auto company, after Mazda in 1991, to win the world's greatest endurance race.

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

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Nakajima - who had clinched the pole position - finished in the auto, the Japanese driver enjoying a moment of redemption after a technical problem cruelly denied him and Toyota victory in the closing stages two years ago.

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.

In an era when modern drivers tend to specialise in one category, such is the demand of the individual championships, that it would be a remarkable achievement for Alonso.

The 36-year-old's ambition has become to win motorsport's famous "triple crown" and he competed at Indianapolis last year, impressing the regulars by running competitively and being in with a chance of victory until his engine failed in the closing stages. However, as time has shown, having the fastest vehicle is no guarantee of success.

Toyota's win is just the second by a Japanese manufacturer, following Mazda's success in 1991.

Nakajimi and Buemi saw the race out in a historic win not only for Alonso or Toyota, but also for Japan.

"It was a tense 24 hours, with two cars within a minute for most of the race". Will he stop F1 at the end of this year to focus on Indycar totally, or stay in F1 and just do the Indy 500 again next year, as he did in 2017?

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