Fernando Alonso helps Toyota win 24 Hours of Le Mans

BMW M8 GTE Le Mans 21 830x553

Heading into the final six hours of the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans in the lead, it was the #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing machine of Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Fernando Alonso that emerged victorious in the iconic race around the Circuit de la Sarthe.

The two-time Formula One world champion is pursuing motor racing's Triple Crown - winning the Monaco Grand Prix, Le Mans and Indianapolis 500 - and ticked off the second of the three prizes in France.

Alonso shared the driving at Le Mans in the Toyota No8 and clearly demonstrated his skill and adaptability as a driver to the 256,900 spectators.

Toyota are the only team competing with a hybrid vehicle in the top LMP1 class, and the privateer-run non-hybrids are not fast enough to challenge them. In 2016, Nakajima himself was in the lead Toyota about to cross the finish line, but with five minutes to go in the race a small hardware failure brought the vehicle to a dead stop in the final lap.

His vehicle went in to Le Mans as strong favourite and the classic event has now been ticked off in clinical style.

Toyota is the only manufacturer with a team in the World Endurance Championships after the withdrawals of Audi and Porsche in the last two years.

Indeed, Toyota has been campaigning at Le Mans for years.

In 1999, for example, Ukyo Katayama, Keiichi Tsuchiya and Toshio Suzuki's Toyota GT-One was on pace to finish first, but blew a tire in the final hour.

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Toyota occupied both places on the front row of the grid as they set off in pursuit of a first victory at Le Mans in their 19th attempt.

Toyota had to overcome a 60-second penalty earned by Buemi for speeding in a slow zone to triumph at the 19th attempt.

Then came the night.

But in a series of stints in the dead of night, Alonso clawed back the deficit and put the number eight vehicle right back on the tail of the number seven. It eventually overtook its sister vehicle and built up a comfortable lead, and took the win completing 388 laps overall.

In the 16th hour of the race, Nakajima retook the lead and the number eight vehicle was in control for the duration.

Other categories were also decided very quickly, with the Porsche 911 RSR doing well in GTE Pro and another former F1 driver, Jean-Eric Vergne, leading the way in G-Drive in LMP2.

'Sure, ' you might be thinking, 'it was easy for Toyota because it had no proper competition.' And yet, as Damon Hill remarked after this year's Le Mans race, "you have to beat Le Mans".

"I went there (the Indy 500) past year without any particular objective".

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