2019 Le Mans
Toyota Hybrids take first and second at 2019 Le Mans
For the second successive year the Toyota Gazoo racing team walked away with the ultimate prize at the Circuit de la Sarthe, Le Mans, France. Driving the #8 TS050 HYBRID, Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Fernando Alonso defended their Le Mans crown and secured the drivers' World Championship in the process, winning by 16.9secs from team-mates Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López in the #7 car.
But for most of the race it looked like first and second place would be reversed, as car #7, driven by Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López, dominated from the start, even setting the fastest-ever Le Mans race lap of 3mins 17.297secs.
But with less than an hour of the race to go, on the 367th lap and with a lead of over two minutes, data on the #7 car indicated a puncture and José pitted to replace the tyre. A sensor issue resulted in the wrong tyre being identified, meaning José left the pits still with a deflating tyre. That necessitated a slow lap back to the pits when all four tyres were changed, handing an unassailable lead to Kazuki in the #8.
At the conclusion of the event, Kazuki Nakajima of car #8 had the following to say, “This year the Le Mans win was decided by luck and not by performance. It was a tough race and what happened to car #7 is hard to believe. We experienced a similar situation in 2016 so we know how this feels and we feel for our team-mates. Thanks to our win we are also World Champions and we are very proud of this after a long and hard season, which included many close fights with our sister car.”