Toyota Gazoo Racing (TGR) and sponsor and technical partner Denso returned to the Le Mans 24 Hours on June 17-18, with one ambition: to take their first victory. On the 86th Le Mans race this aim became a reality as the TGR teams secured the perfect one-two victory at the famous Circuit de la Sarthe.
The Le Mans 24 Hours, Round 3 of the FIA World Endurance Championship, remains one of the world’s most famous motor races, and one that had previously eluded the team until now.
Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and F1 star Fernando Alonso drove the #8 TS050 Hybrid vehicle, steering it to victory as they crossed the line first. Not far behind was the team of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López, who led for long periods in the #7 TS050 Hybrid making it a perfect result for TGR – and technical partner Denso – when they secured the second-place finish in front of over 250,000 fans.
On his debut Le Mans race, Fernando Alonso made an impressive contribution to the victory of the #8 car. Following two stop-go penalties for the vehicle Alonso had to put in an impressive night time stint to put the vehicle back in contention on a day when all TGR drivers performed exceptionally in a high-pressure environment.
The two TS050 Hybrids were evenly matched throughout the 5,286km and victory was never certain until the very end when a late fuel issue dropped the #7 car off the lead so Kazuki, in the #8 car, could take the chequered flag. The #3 Rebellion finished third, 12 laps behind.
It was a test of nerves, not just for the drivers, but also for the mechanics on hand, who knew that Le Mans is an unforgiving, relentless environment for the whole team and vehicles. On its long road to victory at Le Mans, the TS050 Hybrid vehicle has remained at the forefront of hybrid vehicle technology, using a whopping 35% less fuel at this Le Mans compared to the same race in 2012.
For the Hybrid energy system, Denso componentry has helped drive the efficiency and performance of the Toyota Gazoo team, with the TS050 fitted with several Denso components, including the rear hybrid motor, the inverter, Hybrid ECU, spark plugs as well as the oil and water coolant.
After 388 tense laps, TGR’s victory at Le Mans leaves the #8 TGR team at the top of the FIA World Endurance Championship with an impressive 28 points lead ahead of the next non-TGR team in the competition.
The TGR teams will head to the next race at Silverstone, looking to build on their impressive lead and replicate their victory at the thrilling contest which took place in 2017.