Toyota holds on for debut Hypercar win at Le Mans – Sportscar365


Photo: Toyota

Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez claimed a long-awaited 24 Hours of Le Mans victory for Toyota Gazoo Racing at the start of the Hypercar era in the French endurance classic.

The # 7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid overcame an intermittent fuel-related issue that affected both the winning car and the duration of Toyota’s stints, second in the past six hours.

Despite various gremlins, the Japanese manufacturer’s Le Mans Hypercar entries dominated the 89th race of the race, leading the safety car from the start due to a pre-race downpour.

As Conway’s # 7 Toyota in pole position quickly took the lead after a chaotic restart that saw Olivier Pla’s # 708 Glickenhaus 007 crush the # 8 Toyota driven by Sebastien Buemi, it also overcame two punctures in the three-hour opening which put him out of sequence.

In addition to circling, the No.8 car briefly stopped on the track for a systems reset before combating vibration at the 16th hour, followed by the onset of an unidentified fuel issue which saw the car regularly perform shortened relays.

Car # 8 also made an unscheduled stop to replace the passenger side door.

Both Toyota’s, however, held on to take the checkered flag in a race that remarkably saw the five LMH class competitors not only finish in the top five overall, but also stay out of their respective garages.

Kobayashi finished two laps ahead of the No.8 Toyota of Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley for Toyota’s fourth consecutive victory at Le Mans.

It was the first triumph for the No.7 crew at Le Mans after losing in the past three years.

The No. 36 Alpine A480 Gibson of Nico Lapierre, Matthieu Vaxiviere and Andre Negrao completed the podium in third with his LMP1 car built by ORECA, four laps behind the victorious Toyota.

The French team lost time with a Lapierre spin on lap 3 as he was second followed by an off-course excursion from Vaxiviere into the first chicane during the eighth hour that had him brought back to eighth place overall at the time.

The # 708 Glickenhaus bounced back from the Pla incident early in the race to finish fourth alongside co-drivers Pipo Derani and Franck Mailleux, with the # 709 car driven by Richard Westbrook, Ryan Briscoe and Romain Dumas completing the top five.

The two non-hybrid LMH competitors powered by Pipo Moteurs had a largely uneventful race, with the exception of a few penalties for pit lane infractions or on-track incidents.

WRT victorious in LMP2 despite last-lap drama for the lead car

The WRT team took top honors in the LMP2 category despite a shocking save in the last lap for the No.41 Oreca 07 Gibson of Yifei Ye’s team which deprived the Belgian team of a 1-2 result. .

Ye’s car slowed down on the track on the last lap as it entered the Dunlop Bridge, giving the class victory to sister car # 31 of Robin Frijns, Ferdinand Habsburg and Charles Milesi.

Frijns, who had been on four-stint front tires due to a pneumatic cylinder problem in the final hours, edged a # 28 Oreca Sport JOTA from Tom Blomqvist by just 0.727 seconds on the line for the spectacular victory.

Ye took the lead in the final hours when the WRT’s No.31 car suffered an air cylinder failure, forcing the team to change tires with an airbag.

Frijns’ penultimate stop saw the factory Audi rider picking up only new rear tires and his last stop focusing on fuel only.

It was the fourth major endurance race won by WRT on its debut, following triumphs at the Nürburgring 24 Hours, Bathurst 12 Hours and Dubai 24 Hours, all in GT3.

Blomqvist, Sean Gelael and Stoffel Vandoorne finished close second on the line, bouncing off a 90-second penalty for a safety car violation early in the race.

The # 65 Panis Racing Oreca of Will Stevens, James Allen and Julien Canal placed third, with the # 31 WRT car not having passed the checkered flag and therefore not being classified.

JOTA’s sister, the class-pole No. 38 Oreca, Antonio Felix Da Costa, led early until an Anthony Davidson spin which ultimately resulted in a perforated oil filter that had to To be replaced.

Pre-race favorites United Autosports had a tough race, with two of its three cars colliding in a crash involving multiple cars at sunset.

This was followed by alternator issues for his FIA World Endurance Championship nominated No.22 Oreca of Filipe Albuquerque, Phil Hanson and Fabio Scherer, which was delayed by more than an hour.

United’s No.23 car was the best-ranked car in fourth, taking advantage of a late-race puncture for the No.34 Inter Europol Competition Oreca, which rounded out the top five in its class.

Hedman scores stunning victory in LMP2 Pro-Am class

LMP2 Pro-Am category honors were won by the # 21 DragonSpeed ​​Oreca trio of Ben Hanley, Juan Pablo Montoya and Henrik Hedman, despite a fuel scare and driver delay with less than two hours of driving time. the end.

Hanley limped the car around the 8.5 miles Circuit de la Sarthe for an extra lap after missing the pit entrance with 1 hour and 45 minutes on the clock.

It was followed by a driving time error which left Hedman 1 minute less than his required driving time and forced the American team to put the Bronze driver in for the finish.

Hedman weathered challenges from Loic Duval and Job van Uitert until both drivers pulled over for a fuel splash in the dying minutes.

For the second time in the history of the program, the SRT41 Association crossed the checkered flag with its Innovative entry starring Takuma Aoki, Nigel Bailly and Matthieu Lahaye, finishing 33rd overall.

The Oreca managed by Graff Racing had special manual controls for Aoki and Bailly.

RESULTS: 24 hours of Le Mans

Jean Dagys

Jean Dagys is the founder and editor-in-chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a powersports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to many other powersports publications around the world. Contact Jean

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