Fernando Alonso says Toyota has this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours “under control” after his opening stint, despite him suffering a puncture and a precautionary rear bodywork change for the #8 car.
The #8 car, which Alonso shares with starting driver Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima, received a light tap behind from the #1 Rebellion of Andre Lotterer on the charge to the first corner.
“We were concerned about the start, the Rebellion touched our car a little bit,” said Alonso.
“So, we saw nothing wrong with the car in the first couple of stints, but just in case, the team removed it and we took a look a good look on that rear end.
“Everything seemed fine, as suspected. We refitted the original one again at one of the stops. It was just a sanity check.”
After taking over from Buemi, Alonso suffered a puncture, but didn’t lose much time due to pitting under a safety car.
On the subject of his car’s battle with the #7 sister Toyota, he said: “I think it was under control. We lost a little bit of time in the pitstop, I exited the stint 14 seconds behind Pechito [Jose Maria Lopez] and then with the traffic sometimes it helps, sometimes it hurts.
“I was catching a little bit thanks to the lack of traffic, and then I had a puncture and then a safety car so we rebalanced everything again and both cars were at the exit of the pitlane, waiting for Safety Car B.
“It’s the way it is, long race, all the race will probably be like that, little bit of luck, little bit of coincidence one or another in different parts of the race.”
Watch: Buemi interview after opening stint
Enjoying the “racing spirit”
Asked how much he’d enjoyed his first race stint in the French sportscar classic, Alonso replied: “It was great. Obviously we’ve been doing a lot of laps in traffic, but nice racing, you take care of every detail.
"You want the car safe, in one piece, you take extra care in the pitlane, pitstops, you don’t want anything to go wrong.
“A little bit of racing spirit, so far happy with the start of the 24 [hours]. Both cars are pulling away from the third and so far it’s been a good start but we need to keep going.
“We’re leading with a good margin and hopefully we’ll keep this for Toyota and get a little bit more safety margin. It’s a long race ahead of us.
"Now it’s [time to] take a shower, sleep a little bit, and get ready for the next one.”