Slick pitstops, faultless reliability, disciplined driving and great spirit among the Toyota team resulted in a victory for the TS050 Hybrid racers, and the winning team included F1 champion Fernando Alonso, who’s aiming to win the Triple Crown – F1 world championship; 24 Hours of Le Mans; and the Indy 500 – two down, one to go!
The Toyotas were one and two on the grid, and finished a perfect one-two after 388 laps – a well-deserved win over their Porsche rivals.
Jenson Button fared less well in the Russian-backed SMP team’s BR-1 (below) which was taken out by engine failure after completing 315 laps.
Apparently Jenson was completely wide-eyed after his first 3+ hours stint in the classic endurance race. He said: “Fifty minutes after climbing out of the car, my eyes were still wide open, and the adrenalin still rushing through my body. What a thrilling experience.”
Porsche still managed a classy first and second, finishing ahead of one of the Ford GTs in the LMGTE PRO class.
The much-fancied factory and private Aston Martins did not have a good year, and the major culprit appears to be a poorly-designed aero package, which provided great downforce and traction in the corners, but too much drag to deliver enough top speed on the straights.
Third place went to the Rebellion Racing R3, aptly carrying race number 3.
Actor Patrick Dempsey, who funds the Dempsey-Proton, team scored a win for his LM GTAM class, with young Australian Matt Campbell making his debut, in a Porsche 911 RSR (right).
Having attended this classic event eight times, I have been through all the triumphs and failures by the teams competing, and when you get to about 11am on Sunday, it’s usually a heart-in-mouth grind to get to the finish at 3pm. The final 30 minutes is the worst.