Toyota claims its fourth consecutive victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. However, this win differs from the first three. Firstly because it is the first victory of the Hypercar era. The GR010 Hybrid thus enters the history books on its maiden Le Mans as the first every Hypercar to win the race. And, significantly, because this is the first win for the #7 crew, who have been beleaguered by misfortune in the past. Congratulations to Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López, this year’s big winners!
There were so many questions before the flag was lowered to start the 89th 24 Hours of Le Mans. We wondered if Toyota would encounter mechanical hiccups as many teams do when a car embarks on its first 24-hour race. We were also curious about how the Glickenhaus 007 LMHs would perform, after the first two rounds of the World Endurance Championship (WEC). And could Alpine aspire to victory?
After a gruelling 24 hours, we have our answers – and the Japanese outfit has its 1-2 triumph! The #7 Toyota GR010-Hybrid driven by Conway, Kobayashi and López finished ahead of the #8 sister car with Buemi, Nakajima and Hartley at the wheel. It was the end of a very long journey for today’s victors. Having claimed the second step on the podium in 2018 and 2019, then third in 2020, their 24 Hours of Le Mans history had, until now, been a tale of errors, bad luck and twists of fate, depriving them of victory every time. Everyone says that Le Mans chooses its own winners. And now Le Mans has chosen to reward this trio for their perseverance and their consistency on the track this weekend.
Right from the start at 16:00 yesterday, the winning line-up enjoyed a very smooth race. It was a benchmark performance with the #7 in the lead at each hourly check (apart from the 13th hour). In the #8, Sébastien Buemi was forced to push his car to the limit from the very first stint, making up for the valuable seconds lost when he was tagged by Olivier Pla in the #708 Glickenhaus 007 LMH at the first corner. He managed to move back up to second place in just over an hour but never really threatened the #7 for the lead. The two Toyotas then remained at the top of the timesheets for the rest of the race.
Behind them, the Alpine A480-Gibson quickly established itself as the main contender for third place. André Negrão, Nicolas Lapierre and Matthieu Vaxiviere shadowed the Toyota, ready to move in if the race leaders ever slipped up. The French team had a few issues of its own, however, most notably an off-track excursion for Matthieu Vaxiviere at the first chicane on the Mulsanne Straight just before the midway mark. Ultimately, the French car held on to its position and stepped up third on the podium.
- 24H Le Mans -
Check out the full results from the official site: