Le Mans 24 Hours: Toyota claims hat-trick on LMP1 swansong

Toyota Gazoo Racing completed a hat-trick of Le Mans 24 Hours wins as Kazuki Nakajima, Sebastien Buemi and Brendon Hartley piloted the #8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid to a third consecutive victory on the car’s swansong outing at La Sarthe.

It was a third win in a row for Nakajima and Buemi, who triumphed in 2018 and 2019 alongside Fernando Alonso, and a second win for Alonso’s replacement Hartley following his Porsche win in 2017.

For Toyota the spectator-less 2020 edition, in which the predicted rain threat never materialised, was another bittersweet rollercoaster journey. The Cologne-based outfit easily had the measure of the privateer Rebellion competition, but for the third year in a row its #7 crew of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez was denied a chance of a maiden Le Mans win due to mechanical issues.

During the long night, the #7 crew disappeared into the garage for 30 minutes to perform a turbo change, an issue which was eventually attributed to a problem on the exhaust manifold. At that point the #7 car had been leading by a lap after a front-right brake change for its #8 sibling, but then the #7 car lost seven laps and dropped to fourth behind the Rebellions. Further floor damage prevented Kobayashi, Conway and Lopez from recovering lost ground.

The two-car Rebellion team had some issues of its own, including a dislodged nose on the #1 Rebellion R-13 and a late slow stop for car #3, but the Swiss outfit came through and looked on its way to score a double podium on its Le Mans farewell.

The #1 Rebellion R-13 of Gustavo Menezes, Bruno Senna and finished second five laps behind the winning Toyota, but the #3 sister car of Romain Dumas, Nathanael Berthon and Louis Deletraz lost a podium spot with one hour to go after Deletraz went off at Indianapolis and tagged the tyre wall with his right rear, prompting a six-minute stop to fix a clutch issue.

Rebellion’s late misfortune handed Toyota’s #7 car third place overall.

The fifth and final car in a depleted LMP1 class, the #4 ByKolles ENSO CLM P1/01, retired on Saturday night after a crash for Bruno Spengler in the Esses when his rear wing failed, which curtailed another problematic run for the German privateer outfit that was also hit with an alternator problem.

LMP2: United Autosports continues miraculous run

The 24-car LMP2 battle was a much more tightly contested affair for most of the race, in which the two-car United Autosports team proved the class of the field. The #22 Oreca of Paul di Resta, Filipe Albuquerque and Phil Hanson, which had started the race from pole, took control when the #32 sister car of Alex Brundle, Job van Uitert and Will Owen hit trouble with an oil leak on Sunday morning.

That released the #38 JOTA Sport Oreca of Antonio Felix da Costa, Anthony Davidson and Roberto Gonzalez into second place. The #38 crew, which had to make an extra pitstop at night for driver discomfort, hovered around 1m30s behind the leading #22 car for much of the morning.

The battle for the class win came to life again in the final laps, when it became apparent that Hanson would need to make an additional stop for fuel. Hanson came out just six seconds ahead of Davidson, but was relieved when Davidson also dove into the pits for a splash with two laps to go.

Hanson brought the #22 car of the Anglo-American team to the finish some 40 seconds ahead of JOTA’s Davidson.

The #26 G-Drive Aurus-badged Oreca of Roman Rusinov, Jean-Eric Vergne and Mikkel Jensen, which was hit by electrical problems overnight, was on its way to third until Vergne had to box with suspension damage in the final hour, dropping down to fifth.

G-Drive’s delay promoted the #31 Panis Racing Oreca of Mathieu Vaxiviere, Julien Canal and Nico Jamin to third. There was more late drama in LMP2 when James Allen suffered a hard crash at Porsche Curves in the fourth-placed #39 Graff Oreca, which elevated the #36 Signatech Alpine Oreca to fourth despite its early water leak.

There was a highly commendable sixth in class for the #28 IDEC Sport Oreca, a crew which faced an uphill battle to rebuild the car after a practice crash, lacked track time and was forced to start from the pitlane. Its #17 sister car faced a similar fate and also finished the race.

GTE: Aston Martin triumphs over Ferrari

The eight-car GTE Pro battle turned into a two-horse race between the #51 AF Corse Ferrari of James Calado, Alessandro Pier Guidi and Daniel Serra and the #97 Aston Martin of Alex Lynn, Maxime Martin and Ford refugee Harry Tincknell.

The #97 Aston had a leg up on the Ferrari throughout the morning, a triumphant Lynn crossing the line some 1m40s ahead of his rival Calado to gift Aston Martin its first Le Mans GTE Pro win since 2017.

The sister cars of Aston Martin and Ferrari were initially in the hunt as well, but in the #71 AF Corse Ferrari Sam Bird suffered a puncture on Sunday morning, which wreaked havoc on the right-rear corner of the 488 GTE and cost it three laps. The #95 Aston also gradually lost time, which started on Saturday night when it was delayed under safety car conditions.

The #95 car driven by Marco Sorensen, Nicki Thiim and Richard Westbrook bagged third, while Rigon’s #71 Ferrari suffered a broken gearbox on the last lap while running fourth. That promoted the #82 Risi Competizione Ferrari to fourth, following a damper failure that caused Sebastien Bourdais to spin off in the night.

Both factory Porsche entries endured a disastrous race. Gianmaria Bruni started on pole in the #91 Porsche 911 RSR-19 but immediately dropped down the order with an undiagnosed acceleration problem, which also plagued the sister #92 car throughout the race. The latter also spent a lot of time in the garage with a power steering issue.

The #91 car finished sixth ahead of the #92 entry, the last two finishing cars in class. The #63 WeatherTech Racing car retired after Toni Vilander clashed with Nyck de Vries in the #29 Racing Team Nederland Oreca LMP2.

In GTE Am, the #90 TF Sport Aston of Jonathan Adam, Charlie Eastwood and Salih Yoluc romped home to a comfortable win to make it a clean sweep of wins in GTE for Aston Martin, after suspension issues for the factory-entered #98 Aston that was also in contention for most of the first half of the race.

A late safety car bunched up the three cars squabbling over the remaining GTE Am podium positions. In the #56 Team Project 1 Porsche Matteo Cairoli tried to hold off the #77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche of Matt Campbell and the #83 AF Corse Ferrari of Nicklas Nielsen, but lost out in the second Mulsanne chicane and Mulsanne corner respectively.

Cairoli tried to retaliate in the Ford chicane, but made contact with Nielsen and remained in fourth. Campbell finished second for Dempsey-Proton, ahead of Nielsen’s AF Corse Ferrari.

Race results:

18 Sébastien Buemi
Kazuki Nakajima
Brendon Hartley
Toyota TS050 HybridLMP1387  
21 Bruno Senna
Norman Nato
Gustavo Menezes
Rebellion R13LMP1382  
37 Mike Conway
Kamui Kobayashi
Jose Maria Lopez
Toyota TS050 HybridLMP1381  
43 Romain Dumas
Nathanael Berthon
Louis Deletraz
Rebellion R13LMP1381  
522 Philip Hanson
Filipe Albuquerque
Paul di Resta
Oreca 07LMP2370  
638 Anthony Davidson
Antonio Felix da Costa
Roberto Gonzalez
Oreca 07LMP2370  
731 Nico Jamin
Julien Canal
Matthieu Vaxiviere
Oreca 07LMP2368  
836 Andre Negrao
Pierre Ragues
Thomas Laurent
Alpine A470LMP2367  
926 Roman Rusinov
Jean-Eric Vergne
Mikkel Jensen
Aurus 01LMP2367  
1028 Paul Lafargue
Paul-Loup Chatin
Richard Bradley
Oreca 07LMP2366  
1142 Nicolas Lapierre
Antonin Borga
Alexandre Coigny
Oreca 07LMP2365  
1225 John Falb
Simon Trummer
Matt McMurry
Oreca 07LMP2365  
1350 Tatiana Calderon
Sophia Flörsch
Beitske Visser
Oreca 07LMP2364  
1447 Roberto Lacorte
Andrea Belicchi
Giorgio Sernagiotto
Dallara P217LMP2363  
1517 Dwight Merriman
Kyle Tilley
Jonathan Kennard
Oreca 07LMP2363  
1627 Henrik Hedman
Ben Hanley
Renger van der Zande
Oreca 07LMP2361  
1732 Will Owen
Alex Brundle
Job Van Uitert
Oreca 07LMP2359  
1835 Nobuya Yamanaka
Nick Foster Jr.
Roberto Merhi
Ligier JSP 217LMP2351  
1929 Frits van Eerd
Giedo van der Garde
Nyck de Vries
Oreca 07LMP2349  
2097 Maxime Martin
Alex Lynn
Harry Tincknell
Aston Martin Vantage AMRLMGTE PRO346  
2151 Alessandro Pier Guidi
James Calado
Daniel Serra
Ferrari 488 GTE EVOLMGTE PRO346  
2295 Nicki Thiim
Marco Sorensen
Richard Westbrook
Aston Martin Vantage AMRLMGTE PRO343  
2382 Olivier Pla
Sébastien Bourdais
Jules Gounon
Ferrari 488 GTE EVOLMGTE PRO339  
2490 Salih Yoluc
Charles Eastwood
Jonathan Adam
Aston Martin Vantage AMRLMGTE AM339  
2577 Christian Ried
Riccardo Pera
Matt Campbell
Porsche 911 RSRLMGTE AM339  
2683 François Perrodo
Emmanuel Collard
Nicklas Nielsen
Ferrari 488 GTE EVOLMGTE AM339  
2756 Egidio Perfetti
Larry ten Voorde
Matteo Cairoli
Porsche 911 RSRLMGTE AM339  
2824 Garett Grist
Alex Kapadia
Tony Wells
Oreca 07LMP2338  
2986 Michael Wainwright
Benjamin Barker
Andrew Watson
Porsche 911 RSRLMGTE AM337  
3066 Richard Heistand
Maxwell Root
Jan Magnussen
Ferrari 488 GTE EVOLMGTE AM335  
3191 Gianmaria Bruni
Richard Lietz
Frédéric Makowiecki
Porsche 911 RSR – 19LMGTE PRO335  
3261 Francesco Piovanetti
Oswaldo Negri Jr.
Côme Ledogar
Ferrari 488 GTE EVOLMGTE AM335  
3398 Paul Dalla Lana
Ross Gunn
Augusto Farfus
Aston Martin Vantage AMRLMGTE AM333  
3485 Manuela Gostner
Rahel Frey
Michelle Gatting
Ferrari 488 GTE EVOLMGTE AM332  
3592 Michael Christensen
Kevin Estre
Laurens Vanthoor
Porsche 911 RSR – 19LMGTE PRO331  
3699 Vutthikorn Inthrapuvasak
Lucas Legeret
Julien Andlauer
Porsche 911 RSRLMGTE AM331  
3760 Claudio Schiavoni
Sergio Pianezzola
Paolo Ruberti
Ferrari 488 GTE EVOLMGTE AM331  
3878 Horst Felbermayr Jr.
Michele Beretta
Max van Splunteren
Porsche 911 RSRLMGTE AM330  
3954 Thomas Flohr
Francesco Castellacci
Giancarlo Fisichella
Ferrari 488 GTE EVOLMGTE AM330  
4057 Ben Keating
Felipe Fraga
Jeroen Bleekemolen
Porsche 911 RSRLMGTE AM326  
4134 Jakub Smiechowski
Rene Binder
Matevos Isaakyan
Ligier JSP 217LMP2325  
4262 Bonamy Grimes
Johnny Mowlem
Charles Hollings
Ferrari 488 GTE EVOLMGTE AM325  
4389 Philippe Haezebrouck
Julien Piguet
Andreas Laskaratos
Porsche 911 RSRLMGTE AM313  
4439 James Allen
Vincent Capillaire
Charles Milesi
Oreca 07LMP2357  
4571 Davide Rigon
Miguel Molina
Sam Bird
Ferrari 488 GTE EVOLMGTE PRO340  
4672 Han-Chen Chen
Tom Blomqvist
Marcos Gomes
Ferrari 488 GTE EVOLMGTE AM273  
4788 Thomas Preining
Dominique Bastien
Adrien de Leener
Porsche 911 RSRLMGTE AM238  
4875 Rino Mastronardi
Matteo Cressoni
Andrea Piccini
Ferrari 488 GTE EVOLMGTE AM211  
4921 Juan Pablo Montoya
Timothé Buret
Memo Rojas
Oreca 07LMP2192  
5063 Cooper MacNeil
Toni Vilander
Jeff Segal
Ferrari 488 GTE EVOLMGTE PRO185  
5170 Takeshi Kimura
Vincent Abril
Kei Cozzolino
Ferrari 488 GTE EVOLMGTE AM172  
5216 Ryan Cullen
Oliver Jarvis
Nick Tandy
Aurus 01LMP2105  
5330 Jonathan Hirschi
Konstantin Tereshchenko
Tristan Gommendy
Oreca 07LMP2100  
544 Tom Dillmann
Bruno Spengler
Oliver Webb
ENSO CLM P1/01LMP197  
5533 Kenta Yamashita
Mark Patterson
Anders Fjordbach
Oreca 07LMP288  
5652 Christoph Ulrich
Steffen Gorig
Alexander West
Ferrari 488 GTE EVOLMGTE AM80  
5755 Duncan Cameron
Aaron Scott
Matthew Griffin
Ferrari 488 GTE EVOLMGTE AM78  
5811 Adrien Tambay
Erik Maris
Christophe d’Ansembourg
Ligier JSP 217LMP226  
5937 Ho-Pin Tung
Gabriel Aubry
Will Stevens
Oreca 07LMP2141  
View full results

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