Toyota Wins At Le Mans With Fernando Alonso, Nakajima, and Buemi

Le Mans race winner Fernando Alonso Toyota Gazoo Racing celebrates in parc ferme

The vehicle finished two laps behind, after a missed pit stop and minor penalty slowed down the sister auto.

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

Fernando Alonso shared the number eight Toyota TS050 hybrid with Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi.

Alonso celebrated his 300th F1 Grand Prix in June but has not won since he was at Ferrari five years ago. The Rebellion machines were the only non-hybrid privateer cars to avoid major issues.

It seemed to be a case of "oh no, not again" for Toyota when Kamui Kobayashi in the number 7 vehicle slowed down to 80km/h with what seemed like a fueling problem heading towards the end of the race.

It was the No. 8 vehicle of Fernando Alonso, Kazuki Nakajima, and Sébastien Buemi that took the checkered flag. The rules are targeting a 3:20.00 lap around Circuit De La Sarthe, just six seconds slower than the current lap record, set by Kamui Kobayashi in 2017.

But in the end, both cars made it to the finish, to complete the company's dream result - a one-two, with Alonso's vehicle the victor. However, as time has shown, having the fastest auto is no guarantee of success.

Their work on reliability over the winter has paid off with no sign of the mechanical failures that had plagued the team since 2012.

A Toyota victory had been widely predicted after last year's champions Porsche withdrew from the 2018 edition.

There have been questions about whether it was a demonstration rather than a race, because of the obvious promotional benefits for all involved if Alonso won.

If it was a genuine fight, at least for the first two-thirds of the race, Alonso's apparently impressive multiple stints in the middle of the night, when he closed a two-minute lead to virtually nothing, will come to be seen as playing a decisive role in the victory for the number eight auto.

Alonso's hopes had appeared to dim as the race entered the early hours, with his vehicle two minutes adrift of the sister Toyota after a stop-go penalty.

Either way, the win is likely only to enhance his status as one of motorsport's iconic historical figures.

There has been speculation that a Le Mans win could hasten the 36-year-old's departure from Formula One, with McLaren still a long way off the podium.

He will be back in action for McLaren at the French Grand Prix next week, with the race returning to the calendar for the first time since 2008.

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