Alonso acknowledges 'luck' in back-to-back Le Mans wins

Tanya Simon
June 19, 2019

The victory was taken by the #8 entry of Fernando Alonso, Sebastien Buemi, and Kazuki Nakajima after the #7, who had led the nearly entirety of the race, suffered a puncture and sensor failure with an hour to go.

The number eight auto crew took the lead with an hour to go with Nakajima driving the final stint and becoming the first Japanese to win the title.

Their Toyota Gazoo Racing number eight auto looked set to be pipped by the same marque's number seven drivers - only for Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose-Maria Lopez to see their first-place hopes cruelly punctured in the closing stages. Russian entry SMP Racing finished third, with former McLaren driver Stoffel Vandoorne part of their line-up.

"To win Le Mans is extremely hard and frustrating, we saw that again", said Kobayashi, the team's other Japanese driver.

Three years ago Buemi was in the team assured of victory only for their Toyota to lose power when in the lead on the final lap.

"We wanted to make it really boring, but that didn't happen", said Toyota team boss Rob Leupen.

Ford signed off its GT programme at Le Mans without a podium in the Pro class, but all four entries at least made the finish in fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh in class. We have a race now.

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Meanwhile, in the LMP2 category Signatech trio Nicolas Lapierre, Pierre Thiriet and Andre Negrao secured a dominant win driving the Oreca under Team Alpine.

Many expected Toyota would win this year's edition of the race, but the winning vehicle came as a surprise. "I can imagine what they are feeling after 2016 in the last lap for us, it must be bad".

The 37-year-old Spaniard still needs to win the Indianapolis 500 in order to match British driver Graham Hill's feat of completing the Triple Crown: winning Le Mans, the Monaco Grand Prix and the Indy 500.

"This was a dramatic end to an incredible season for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing and we look forward to defending our titles next season". "Nevertheless I am proud of my team-mates Mike and Kamui for their performance, they drove a great race and we can promise that we will come back stronger to Le Mans".

Jose Maria Lopez (TS050 HYBRID #7) "Firstly I would like to congratulate our team-mates from auto #8 who pushed us to the limit for the Le Mans win and the World Championship title. We feel so sorry for our #7 crew, but big congratulations to our new @FIAWEC World Champions and two-time Le Mans winners". SMP Racing claimed the third and final rostrum spot in the No. 11 BR Engineering BR1.

"I've experienced unfortunately those moments as well, fighting for the world championship with McLaren in 2007 and Ferrari in 2010 and 2012".

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