Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Fernando Alonso in the #8 TS050 Hybrid started from pole position and took the chequered flag after 388 tense and often dramatic laps at the Circuit de la Sarthe to extend their lead in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).
Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose María López, who led for long periods in the #7 TS050 Hybrid, made it a perfect result for Toyota with second place in front of 256,900 fans.
Toyota, which had entered a total of 47 cars at Le Mans prior to this weekend’s race and finished on the podium six times, becomes only the second Japanese manufacturer to win at La Sarthe, after Mazda which won in 1991 with its 787B, while Kazuki is the first Japanese driver to win in a Japanese car.
The result is a culmination of intense and determined efforts by Toyota Gazoo Racing colleagues from Higashi-Fuji and Cologne to continually enhance its hybrid-electric technology, which won this weekend’s race using 35% less fuel than in 2012, when it returned to endurance racing.
Toyota’s two TS050 Hybrids were evenly matched throughout the 5286 kilometres and swopped places several times during a race which featured its share of drama for the leaders.
Two stop-go penalties for the #8 car, compared to one for the sister car, required an impressive night-time stint from Fernando to come back into contention on a day when all drivers performed exceptionally in a high-pressure environment.
A late fuel issue dropped the #7 car off the lead lap, so Kazuki took the chequered flag for the #8 with a lead of two laps. The #3 Rebellion finished third, 12 laps behind.
“I am so proud of everyone in the team for this result. It has been our dream to win Le Mans and finally we have achieved it. Thank you so much to everyone for their incredible hard work, team spirit and never-give-up attitude. To win Le Mans for Toyota after so many frustrations and disappointments is a truly magical moment,” said Toyota Gazoo Racing team president, Hisatake Murata.
Akio Toyota, the president of Toyota Motor Corporation, said, “Thank you for driving all out! Please let me direct these words to our drivers, who drove our cars for the longest distance at Le Mans, finally in our 20th challenge. At the same time, I would like to say the same to our cars, completing 388 laps, approximately 5300km. And thank you very much for letting us and our drivers drive all out! I want to say this to all fans who have supported us for a long time, our partners and suppliers who have battled together with us, and all the team members and the people related to our team. I want to express my sincere appreciation to all.”