“It’s impossible to plan such a thing, but when it happens it’s an indescribable feeling.”Wolfgang Porsche, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Porsche
And to make the win even more special for Toyota and race fans, one of the co-drivers of the winning No. 8 Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050 Hybrid was none other than two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso. His co-drivers were Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima. They started from pole position and took the checkered flag after 388 laps and more than 5,300 kms at the Circuit de la Sarthe, extending their lead in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).
Toyota entered 47 cars in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in their attempts to win the race. They finished on the podium six times over the years but never achieved the overall win until this year.
This is the first time a Japanese driver has won the race driving a Japanese car. Toyota is only the second Japanese manufacturer to win overall. Mazda won in 1991.
“It’s great to be here finally; it has been a long time,” said Nakajima. “I am almost speechless. I had great team-mates and Toyota gave us a very strong car. We finished the race without any issue on both cars so I feel we all deserved to win the race. To win this race has been a big dream for all of Toyota since 1985. There have been many people involved in this project so I am proud to be here to represent all that effort.”
Toyota Gazoo Racing
“It was an intense, close fight for a long time; we were all nervous watching on TV,” said Conway “We were all out there to do the best we can without taking big risks. It’s been a long race, lots of things changing. It shows that Toyota can build two strong cars and we can race hard. Congratulations to car #8. They had a great week and a great race. Our car fell short but it’s a great team result.”
Two stop and go penalties for the No. 8 car, and one for the No. 7 car, required an impressive nighttime stint from Alonso, who brought his team back into contention. A late fuel issue dropped the No. 7 car off the lead lap, which ended up finishing 2 laps down. The No. 3 Rebellion finished third, 12 laps behind.
“It was an incredible race, I don’t know what to say,” Said Christensen. “The car was fast right from the start. We had a little luck during a safety car phase and we managed to pull clear of the field a little. From that point on we focused on extending our lead. In the final third of the race we simply tried to avoid taking any risks and bring the car home safely. This worked perfectly.”
“I’m lost for words,” said Dempsey following the race. “Everyone did a fantastic job, it was a victory for the whole team. The race was incredible, we made no mistakes and our work was rewarded with this great success. I can’t tell you how incredibly proud and happy I am for Porsche, too.”
Frédéric Makowiecki provided a special highlight. The Frenchman fought an epic duel with a competitor for an hour and a half, fending off all attacks to claim second place. With these two triumphs at the 24-hour marathon in France, Porsche has extended its lead in the drivers’ and manufacturers’ classifications of the FIA WEC world championship.
“Our car was very fast, but we simply couldn’t keep up with our sister car, which was incredibly consistent,” said Makowiecki. “For over an hour I battled hard with a competitor for second place. That makes my job as a race driver really fun, but we couldn’t make up ground in this phase. I’m thrilled for the team with our second place at Le Mans. We’ll be back next year to fight for victory.”
The second Dempsey-Proton Racing No. 88 car was sidelined with suspension damage and the Proton Competition No. 99 Porsche 911 RSR narrowly missed out on a podium finishing in fourth place.
“An absolutely perfect weekend for Porsche,” Said Dr Wolfgang Porsche, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Porsche. “You can’t wish for more than this in our anniversary year. It’s impossible to plan such a thing, but when it happens it’s an indescribable feeling. Congratulations to the drivers, the teams and all the employees who made this success possible. It makes me very proud.”
Photographs and Videos © Copyright TrackWorthy Group Ltd. 2018