CAPTION: The number 8 Toyota GR010-Hybrid has clinched a fifth successive win for Toyota Gazoo Racing. The number 7 sister car took second place for an impressive one-two for the Japanese manufacturer. A fourth win for Sébastien Buemi and a third for Brendon Hartley. (Courtesy: 24 Hours of LeMans)
The number 8 Toyota GR010-Hybrid has won the 90th 24 Hours of Le Mans, securing a fifth win on the bounce for Toyota Gazoo Racing.
After triumphing in 2018, 2019 and 2020 in the Toyota TS050-Hybrid, driver Sébastien Buemi now has a fourth win to his name.
The Swiss ace joins Belgian Olivier Gendebien (1958, 1960-62) and Frenchmen Henri Pescarolo (1972-74, 1984) and Yannick Dalmas (1992, 1994-95, 1999) in the rankings of all-time winners of the iconic endurance race.
It was also a third overall success for Brendon Hartley. The Kiwi shared the wheel with Buemi in 2020 after winning with the Porsche LMP team in 2017. Buemi and Hartley were partnered by Japanese rookie Ryō Hirakawa.
The number 8 Toyota GR010-Hybrid was followed home by the number 7 sister car (Conway/Kobayashi/López) and the number 709 Glickenhaus 007 LMH (Briscoe/Westbrook/Mailleux).
As for the other two Hypercars, the number 708 Glickenhaus 007 LMH (Pla/Dumas/Derani) finished fourth and the Alpine A480-Gibson (Negrão/Lapierre/Vaxiviere) 23rd overall.
The Japanese manufacturer’s victory was never seriously in doubt once TotalEnergies Chairman and CEO Patrick Pouyanné started the race at 16:00 on Saturday.
The number 8 Hypercar started in pole position following Hartley’s brilliant late, late lap in Thursday evening’s dramatic Hyperpole session. The two Toyota GR010-Hybrids regularly traded the top two positions until Sunday morning when the number 7 car had to pit for an engine reset.
The number 8 car showed remarkable consistency throughout to claim the 24 Hours of Le Mans trophy.
As expected, the LMGTE Pro class offered up a tense fight between Porsche, Ferrari and Chevrolet Corvette. The American manufacturer locked out the front row of the grid in Hyperpole and appeared strong until night had fallen.
The number 63 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R (García/Taylor/Catsburg) punctured its left rear tyre while the number 64 (Milner/Tandy/Sims) suffered brake damage, apparently caused by debris.
Laura Wontrop Klauser and her team sensing that the number 63 would not be in a position to mount a podium challenge, they pinned their hopes on the number 64 which made up its deficit during the night.
Alexander Sims was leading the class mid-morning when disaster struck. An unfortunate error by François Perrodo in the AF Corse number 83 Oreca 07-Gibson barged the C8.R into the barriers on the Mulsanne Straight, ending the team’s hopes of a first win since 2015. The near-simultaneous double retirement of the American challengers left Ferrari and Porsche to battle it out for victory.
The AF Corse number 51 (Pier Guidi/Calado/Serra) and number 52 Ferrari 488 GTE Evo (Molina/Fuoco/Rigon) and the number 91 (Bruni/Lietz/Makowiecki) and number 92 Porsche 911 RSR-19 (Christensen/Estre/Vanthoor) fought tooth and nail with fortunes ebbing and flowing throughout.
By dint of brake changes, punctures and slow zones, an advantage finally emerged for the number 91 Porsche and the number 51 Ferrari.
Frédéric Makowiecki held off the challenge from James Calado to clinch the win for the German manufacturer.
After three second places, it is the Frenchman’s first class win at Le Mans. Teammates Gimmi Bruni and Richard Lietz already have three each to their name. The AF Corse number 51 and number 52 Ferraris finished second and third respectively.
The JOTA number 38 Oreca 07-Gibson takes a thoroughly deserved LMP2 crown. It is the British team’s first class victory at Le Mans since 2014 when it won the LMP2 class with the number 38 Zytek Z11SN Nissan, although it did provide the technical support to Jackie Chan DC Racing when the Chinese outfit triumphed in 2017 with the number 38 Oreca 07-Gibson.
The “Mighty 38” has come good once again.
This success is the second class win for British driver Will Stevens following his 2017 LMGTE Am triumph with JMW Motorsport in a Ferrari 488 GTE. Mexican Roberto González and Portuguese António Félix da Costa had never previously been on the top step of the Le Mans podium.
González, da Costa and Stevens drove an extremely solid race, leading the class from the first hour. While a battle royale for the podium places ensued behind them, the trio remained supreme throughout. At the checkered flag, the Prema Orlen Team number 9 Oreca 07-Gibson (Kubica/Delétraz/Colombo) clinched second place ahead of the JOTA number 28 Oreca 07-Gibson (Rasmussen/Jones/Aberdein) in third.
After last year’s second place, TF Sport have gone one better by taking the LMGTE Am title in the number 33 Aston Martin Vantage AMR.
American Ben Keating, invited as the winner of the IMSA Jim Trueman Award, finally has a class title at the 24 Hours of Le Mans after triumphing in the LMP2 class at the IMSA 12 Hours of Sebring earlier this year.
It was also a first Le Mans win for Dane Marco Sørensen (third in 2020 with Aston Martin Racing) and, of course, Portuguese rookie Henrique Chaves. They were followed home by long-time leader, the number 79 Porsche 911 RSR-19 of WeatherTech Racing (MacNeil/Andlauer/Merrill), and the number 98 Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Northwest AMR (Dalla Lana/Pittard/Thiim).