Fernando Alonso wins on debut in 24 Hours Le Mans race

Fernando Alonso wins on debut in 24 Hours Le Mans race

Toyota drivers Fernando Alonso, right, and Sebastien Buemi celebrate on Sunday after winning the 86th edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours Race.

Alonso, a double Formula 1 world champion, was the star turn as he became the sixth driver to complete the Monaco-Le Mans double after Tazio Nuvolari, Maurice Trintignant, Bruce McLaren, Jochen Rindt and Graham Hill. The team had raced at Le Mans since 2012 with a very competitive auto, yet had never managed to score an outright victory.

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.

That put Alonso's number eight vehicle more than two minutes - two thirds of a lap - behind and apparently facing an uphill struggle to get back into contention.

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

The result was effectively settled when Kobayashi had to serve two penalties for exceeding the fuel allowance, and for driving too many laps in a stint.

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.

The 36-year old Spaniard and team-mates Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi secured a two-lap victory.

Toyota escaped a penalty when the number eight car's wheels were seen to be moving before it had touched the ground, which is not permitted, during the pit stop when Alonso handed the auto to Nakajima for the final two stints before the finish.

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.

There was no joy for another former F1 champion, though. Former rivals Porsche and Audi pulled out after a year ago in the wake of the parent company Volkswagen's diesel scandal.

It just shows the effects of downforce and diffuser pressure as cars attain blistering speeds across the track.

"It was a tense 24 hours, with two cars within a minute for most of the race".

Nakajima had also been part of the Toyota team in 2016 when the auto had faltered in the last three minutes of the race, robbing them of victory.

Alonso now just needs to win the Indy 500.

Related Articles