Alonso wins Le Mans to edge closer to Triple Crown

Alonso wins Le Mans to edge closer to Triple Crown

Alonso wins Le Mans to edge closer to Triple Crown

After years of futile campaigns, Toyota finally ended its victory drought by winning the 86th running of the Le Mans 24 Hours on Sunday, taking the top 2 spots by outclassing the competition using a hybrid auto. It also means Alonso is one step closer to the "Triple Crown", having already won the Monaco GP and now Le Mans.

The talents of Jean-Eric Vergne though provided the real punch that saw the early advantage for the team defended with most vigour, put simply this was a race that the team, and all three drivers deserved to win.

A fuel issue with 100 minutes left on the clock (which turns out to be regulation rather than technical related) dropped auto number 7 off the lead lap, which eventually allowed vehicle 8 to finish the race with a lead of two laps.

The Japanese marque's near-1000bhp hybrid vehicle will be based on the GR Super Sports Concept that was first shown at the 2018 Tokyo Auto Salon and is now on display at the Circuit de la Sarthe in Toyota's Gazoo Racing Fan Village. When Alonso took the wheel, he helped the No. 8 auto erase the deficit before Nakajima finally grabbed the lead in the 16th hour and was never threatened from there.

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

That has left Toyota as the only "works" team in LMP1, and the only hybrid-powered auto, with the rest of the field made up by traditionally-powered privateer teams.

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.

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It was the first time for a Japanese driver to pilot a Japanese team to victory in the annual endurance race, which began in 1923 and has been run nearly every year since.

A late fuel issue dropped the #7 vehicle off the lead lap so Kazuki took the chequered flag for the #8 with a lead of two laps.

Jenson Button wrote off his first Le Mans as a "testing session" in a pitlane interview as the #11 SMP Racing was 60th overall and 49 laps down.

It is planned that the new hypercar in two years will take part in the world championship on races on endurance. Graham Hill is the only driver to have won the triple crown.

Thankfully for Toyota, none of these majorly affected its race.

Former Formula One champion Jenson Button raced for the private SMP team, but the Briton's non-hybrid auto faced early problems with engine trouble that forced its retirement in the final hour.

Such is the speeds with which drivers push their cars at Le Mans, that drain covers along the track came loose, posing a hazard for all racers. "I was happier to be in the auto rather than watching the vehicle from outside, my teammate can prove that". Will he stop F1 at the end of this year to focus on Indycar totally, or stay in F1 and just do the Indy 500 again next year, as he did in 2017?

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