Toyota has won the 2018 Le Mans 24 Hours with the Number Eight car – driven by Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Fernando Alonso. Kazuki Nakajima drove his Toyota to victory on Sunday in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, giving the top podium spot to a Japanese manufacturer for the first time since 1991. Nakajima and co-drivers Sebastien Buemi and Fernando Alonso made 388 laps at the 13.626-kilometer Circuit de la Sarthe en route to Toyota's first victory.
Speaking about the win, Kazuki Nakajima said, “It’s great to be here finally; it has been a long time. I am almost speechless. I had great team-mates and Toyota gave us a very strong car. We finished the race without any issue on both cars so I feel we all deserved to win the race. To win this race has been a big dream for all of Toyota since 1985. There have been many people involved in this project so I am proud to be here to represent all that effort.”
Toyota GAZOO Racing team's sister car, driven by Kamui Kobayashi, was two laps behind in second. Spain's two-time Formula One world champion Alonso was competing here for the first time. He came in with a goal of winning this race, the Indianapolis 500 and the Monaco Grand Prix for a triple crown of motor sport. His No. 8 car and Kobayashi's No. 7 were ahead of others from the beginning of the 24-hour race. The No. 8 car, which secured pole position, lead after the first hour but they too surrendered the lead to Kobayashi's car midway through the race. Alonso has won the Monaco Grand Prix twice. Only English racing great Graham Hill has won all three.
It was the first time for a Japanese driver to lead a Japanese team to victory in the annual endurance race, which began in 1923 and has been run almost every year since. Mazda was the first Japanese manufacturer to win the race in 1991 when three foreign drivers steered to victory. Toyota has been participating in the race since 90s but has never made its way to the top position till now. Toyota's triumph comes at the 20th attempt for the manufacturer, who became the second Japanese company to have won the world's most famous endurance race after Mazda in 1991.
Earlier in 2017, two of the three Toyotas retired due to mechanical trouble while Porsche emerged as the winner and in 2016 the Japanese team's No. 5 car led until three minutes remaining but lost speed and missed its first victory then.
Toyota, the only full works manufacturer team in the top LMP1 category, were the class act of the field and enjoyed a clear advantage over the privateers from the off. The LMP2 was won by the G-Drive Racing Oreca of Jean-Éric Vergne, Andrea Pizzitola and Roman Rusinov. The Porsche 911 RSR of Kévin Estre, Michael Christensen and Laurens Vanthoor took the flag in GTE-Pro. In GTE-Am victory went to the Dempsey Proton Porsche of Julien Andlauer, Christian Ried and Matt Campbell.