Fernando Alonso wins Le Mans 24 with Toyota


Toyota has at last won the 24 Hours of Le Mans, breaking a decades-long curse of bad luck and near-misses and taking the top two spots. It doesn't matter. Only the headline does: Toyota has won the Le Mans 24hrs.

Alonso, bidding to win the second leg of motor racing's Triple Crown of the Monaco GP, Le Mans and the Indy 500, drove the Toyota No8 for a two-hour and forty-five-minute burst.

The trio put the #8 auto on pole, ahead of team mates Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez, with their nearest challenger a staggering four seconds further back in third.

The presence of a sporting icon at Le Mans guaranteed the race, Toyota and the WEC far greater global attention than had it been six lesser-known drivers competing in what was effectively a private Toyota battle.

Nakajima - who had clinched the pole position - finished in the vehicle, the Japanese driver enjoying a moment of redemption after a technical problem cruelly denied him and Toyota victory in the closing stages two years ago. "It needs to be every three weeks", joked Alonso, who looked to be in trouble when Buemi was penalized for speeding in a caution zone late Saturday.

The Rebellion Racing team took third and fourth place, with Thomas Laurent, Mathias Beche and Gustavo Menezes joining the Toyota teams on the podium.

But in a series of stints in the dead of night, Alonso clawed back the deficit and put the number eight auto right back on the tail of the number seven.

"Finally", exclaimed Nakajima, who had the honour of taking the auto across the finish line.

Although the final rankings may make it look like an easy win, with some substantial leads, it wasn't the case as Toyota's number eight was involved in an early crash with a Rebellion vehicle.

More news: Five Things We Learned From Germany’s Surprise Defeat To Mexico
More news: Kim for President? 'Never say never,' says Kardashian West
More news: McDonald's to phase out plastic straws in United Kingdom and Ireland

But in the end, both cars made it to the finish, to complete the company's dream result - a one-two, with Alonso's auto the victor.

Alonso will now turn his attention back to F1 with the championship returning to France for the first time in a decade with a race at Paul Ricard.

"It was a tense 24 hours, with two cars within a minute for most of the race". Jenson Button's BR Engineering BR1, which included Vitaly Petrov and Mikhail Aleshin, was pulled from the race in the final hour.

The Spaniard left Ferrari at the end of 2014 having lost faith in their ability to deliver a title-winning auto, only to find that McLaren-Honda were in far worse shape.

The 36-year-old's ambition has become to win motorsport's famous "triple crown" and he competed at Indianapolis last year, impressing the regulars by running competitively and being in with a chance of victory until his engine failed in the closing stages.

The Toyotas finished first and second in the top category, Le Mans Prototype 1, where the competition was eight non-hybrid prototypes run by private teams. With a one-two finish they became only the second Japanese auto company, after Mazda in 1991, to win the world's greatest endurance race.

Before the race, Buemi who, like Nakajima, had been vainly chasing a Le Mans victory since 2012, said Alonso "was a real plus for the team". Just the Indy 500 left for Alonso, then...

These questions will be hanging over him when he returns to his F1 role with McLaren at next weekend's French Grand Prix.