Le Mans 24h: Alonso, Buemi, Nakajima win again for Toyota

Toyota sealed its second Le Mans 24 Hours victory in expectedly dominant style, but a late problem for the #7 car handed another win to Fernando Alonso, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima.

Le Mans 24h: Alonso, Buemi, Nakajima win again for Toyota
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The #7 TS050 Hybrid looked to have an edge over the sister car - and Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez looked well set for a straightforward victory over the #8 car until drama struck the trio with just over an hour of the race remaining.

Lopez had more than two minutes in hand when he pitted to replace a suspected front-right puncture, but it was in fact the left-rear that needed changing, forcing the Argentinian to limp back to the pits. He resumed 50s down on Nakajima in the #8 car once the issue was solved.

After assuming the lead when Nakajima made his final routine stop, Lopez pitted for the final time with 20 minutes to go and took the flag only 16s in arrears.

Minute by minute coverage:

Victory for Alonso, Nakajima and Buemi also guaranteed them FIA World Endurance Championship honours, with Buemi earning that accolade for the second time after his 2014 triumph.

The best of the non-hybrid LMP1s dropped off the lead lap early in hour five, and by the finish the third-placed car, SMP Racing's #11 BR Engineering BR1, was six laps down on the winning car.

Le Mans debutant Stoffel Vandoorne and his teammates in the #11 car, Mikhail Aleshin and Vitaly Petrov, enjoyed a virtually-trouble free run to ensure SMP came out on top against its main rival Rebellion Racing, which suffered dramas with both of its R-13s.

The #3 survived a crash for Thomas Laurent in the evening without losing a lap, thanks to rapid pitwork and a well-timed safety car, but Gustavo Menezes was less fortunate when he got the car beached in the gravel at the Porsche Curves with just over six hours to go.

That was followed by numerous trips to the garage that left the #3 machine down in fifth and 15 laps down on the winning car, five laps behind the #1 Rebellion of Neel Jani, Bruno Senna and Andre Lotterer which had dropped out of the fight for privateer honours before night fell.

SMP could have made it a three-four if not for a terminal crash at the Porsche Curves for Egor Orudzhev in the #17 BR1 he shared with Stephane Sarrazin and Sergey Sirotkin.

Neither of the remaining LMP1s, the DragonSpeed BR1 and the ByKolles entry, were still in the race by sunrise. The #10 BR1 was plagued and ultimately halted by persistent electronic gremlins, while the #4 ENSO CLM P1/01 suffered a terminal gearshift problem in the early hours.

LMP2: Signatech Alpine seals dominant victory

Signatech trio Nicolas Lapierre, Pierre Thiriet and Andre Negrao secured a dominant victory in the LMP2 division in their #36 Alpine-branded Oreca, backing up their inherited victory of last year and also securing WEC class championship victory in the process.

Their triumph again owed much to G-Drive Racing hitting trouble, as the #26 Aurus-badged Oreca shared by Roman Rusinov, Jean-Eric Vergne and Job van Uitert gave up a dominant three-minute lead after losing 20 minutes to a wiring issue during a routine stop in hour 19.

From there, the #36 crew was not challenged for victory, having already established a lap's buffer over the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca shared by Ho-Pin Tung, Stephane Richelmi and Gabriel Aubry, which lost ground when the car lost a lap with a puncture.

Third place went to the polesitting #28 TDS Oreca of Loic Duval, Matthieu Vaxiviere and Francois Perrodo, who enjoyed an easy run to what became the final podium place after Pastor Maldonado crashed the #31 DragonSpeed Oreca at Tertre Rouge with just under seven hours remaining.

Best of the non-Orecas was the fourth-placed United Autosports LMP2 of Phil Hanson, Paul di Resta and Filipe Albuquerque, two laps down, ahead of the IDEC Sport Oreca and the G-Drive car, which was able to recover from its issue to finish sixth, four laps down.

The sister Jackie Chan DC Racing car failed to finish after suffering a gearbox failure while running inside the top five.

GTE Pro: Ferrari wins after Corvette heartbreak

Ferrari scored its first GTE Pro class victory since 2014 thanks to the efforts of James Calado, Alessandro Pier Guidi and Daniel Serra in the #51 AF Corse 488 GTE.

The vagaries of the safety car periods had essentially turned the battle for honours into a two-horse race between the #51 Ferrari and the #63 Corvette of Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen and Mike Rockenfeller heading into the morning hours.

However, the 21st-hour intervention caused by Nyck de Vries’ high-speed off in the Racing Team Nederland Dallara at Indianapolis led to the #63 car getting held at the end of pitlane, which handed the #51 Ferrari a one-minute lead it would never lose.

Any chance of Corvette salvaging a podium finish was lost when Magnussen spun at the Porsche Curves, making light contact with the barriers, which cost the car two laps. A further 15-minute trip to the garage left it five laps off the pace.

Corvette had already lost one car when Marcel Fassler hit the barriers at the same part of the track with force towards the end of the sixth hour, the result of contact with the #88 Dempsey-Proton Porsche of Satoshi Hoshino for which the stewards judged Fassler to blame.

Behind the winning Ferrari, Porsche filled out the remaining spots on the podium, with the #91 car of Gianmaria Bruni, Frederic Makowiecki and Richard Lietz beating the best of the IMSA entries, the #93 of Nick Tandy, Earl Bamber and Patrick Pilet, by under 20s.

Ford’s quartet of retro-liveried GTs filled out the next four places, led by the #68 machine of 2016 class winners Sebastien Bourdais, Dirk Muller and Joey Hand.

Exhaust problems in the night cost the #92 Porsche crew any of chance of defending their 2018 victory, but 10th and fifth among the WEC points-scoring cars was enough to ensure Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen came away with title honours.

Both BMW and Aston Martin had races to forget, BMW’s top finisher finishing six laps down in 11th and both Astons suffering problems in the night.

Marco Sorensen’s violent crash at Indianapolis in the #95 Vantage GTE, which had started on pole, made it one of three non-finishers in the class, along with the #64 Corvette and the #71 Ferrari, which suffered engine troubles.

GTE Am: Keating Ford survives late scare

Keating Motorsports' privateer Ford GT, piloted by Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Felipe Fraga, held on for a narrow win in GTE Am, surviving a late scare when owner-driver Keating picked up a stop-and-go-penalty.

The Wynn's-liveried #85 machine had led by as much as a lap, but in the closing hours the #56 Project 1 Porsche of Jorg Bergmeister, Egidio Perfetti and Patrick Lindsey had worked its way back into the fray even before Keating earned his penalty for spinning his wheels in a pitstop.

That infraction reduced a 36s lead to less than 5s, but Bleekemolen was able to pull away in the final hour to secure victory by around 50s, helped by a late splash for Bergmeister - who nonetheless sealed WEC GTE Am class title honours along with his teammates.

The final spot on the class podium went to the JMW Motorsport Ferrari of Rodrigo Baptista, Jeff Segal and Wei Lu, which ended up only 40 seconds behind the Project 1 Porsche.

Full race results:

Cla # Drivers Car Class Laps Gap
1 8 Switzerland Sébastien Buemi
Japan Kazuki Nakajima
Spain Fernando Alonso
Toyota TS050 Hybrid LMP1 385  
2 7 United Kingdom Mike Conway
Japan Kamui Kobayashi
Argentina Jose Maria Lopez
Toyota TS050 Hybrid LMP1 385 16.972
3 11 Russian Federation Vitaly Petrov
Russian Federation Mikhail Aleshin
Belgium Stoffel Vandoorne
BR Engineering BR1 LMP1 379 6 Laps
4 1 Switzerland Neel Jani
Germany Andre Lotterer
Brazil Bruno Senna
Rebellion R13 LMP1 376 9 Laps
5 3 France Thomas Laurent
France Nathanael Berthon
United States Gustavo Menezes
Rebellion R13 LMP1 370 15 Laps
6 36 France Nicolas Lapierre
Brazil Andre Negrao
France Pierre Thiriet
Alpine A470 LMP2 368 17 Laps
7 38 China Ho-Pin Tung
Monaco Stéphane Richelmi
France Gabriel Aubry
Oreca 07 LMP2 367 18 Laps
8 28 France François Perrodo
France Matthieu Vaxiviere
France Loic Duval
Oreca 07 LMP2 366 19 Laps
9 22 United Kingdom Philip Hanson
Portugal Filipe Albuquerque
United Kingdom Paul di Resta
Ligier JSP 217 LMP2 365 20 Laps
10 48 France Paul Lafargue
France Paul-Loup Chatin
Mexico Memo Rojas
Oreca 07 LMP2 364 21 Laps
11 26 Russian Federation Roman Rusinov
Netherlands Job Van Uitert
France Jean-Eric Vergne
Aurus 01 LMP2 364 21 Laps
12 30 France Nico Jamin
France Pierre Ragues
France Romain Dumas
Oreca 07 LMP2 363 22 Laps
13 23 Austria Rene Binder
France Julien Canal
United Kingdom Will Stevens
Ligier JSP 217 LMP2 362 23 Laps
14 39 France Tristan Gommendy
France Vincent Capillaire
Switzerland Jonathan Hirschi
Oreca 07 LMP2 362 23 Laps
15 25 France David Zollinger
France Andrea Pizzitola
United States John Falb
Oreca 07 LMP2 357 28 Laps
16 20 Denmark Anders Fjordbach
Denmark Dennis Andersen
Switzerland Mathias Beche
Oreca 07 LMP2 356 29 Laps
17 50 France Erwin Creed
France Romano Ricci
United States Nicholas Boulle
Ligier JSP 217 LMP2 355 30 Laps
18 47 Italy Roberto Lacorte
Italy Giorgio Sernagiotto
Italy Andrea Belicchi
Dallara P217 LMP2 352 33 Laps
19 32 Ireland Ryan Cullen
United Kingdom Alex Brundle
Ligier JSP 217 LMP2 348 37 Laps
20 51 Italy Alessandro Pier Guidi
United Kingdom James Calado
Brazil Daniel Serra
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE PRO 342 43 Laps
21 91 Italy Gianmaria Bruni
Austria Richard Lietz
France Frédéric Makowiecki
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE PRO 342 43 Laps
22 93 France Patrick Pilet
New Zealand Earl Bamber
United Kingdom Nick Tandy
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE PRO 342 43 Laps
23 68 United States Joey Hand
Germany Dirk Muller
France Sébastien Bourdais
Ford GT LMGTE PRO 342 43 Laps
24 67 Guernsey Andy Priaulx
United Kingdom Harry Tincknell
United States Jonathan Bomarito
Ford GT LMGTE PRO 342 43 Laps
25 69 Australia Ryan Briscoe
United Kingdom Richard Westbrook
New Zealand Scott Dixon
Ford GT LMGTE PRO 341 44 Laps
26 66 Germany Stefan Mücke
France Olivier Pla
United States Billy Johnson
Ford GT LMGTE PRO 340 45 Laps
27 29 Netherlands Frits van Eerd
Netherlands Giedo van der Garde
Netherlands Nyck de Vries
Dallara P217 LMP2 340 45 Laps
28 94 Germany Sven Muller
France Mathieu Jaminet
Norway Dennis Olsen
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE PRO 339 46 Laps
29 63 Denmark Jan Magnussen
Spain Antonio Garcia
Germany Mike Rockenfeller
Chevrolet Corvette C7R LMGTE PRO 337 48 Laps
30 92 Denmark Michael Christensen
France Kevin Estre
Belgium Laurens Vanthoor
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE PRO 337 48 Laps
31 82 Brazil Augusto Farfus
Portugal Antonio Felix da Costa
Finland Jesse Krohn
BMW M8 GTE LMGTE PRO 335 50 Laps
32 85 United States Ben Keating
Netherlands Jeroen Bleekemolen
Brazil Felipe Fraga
Ford GT LMGTE AM 334 51 Laps
33 56 Germany Jörg Bergmeister
United States Patrick Lindsey
Norway Egidio Perfetti
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 334 51 Laps
34 84 United States Jeff Segal
Brazil Rodrigo Baptista
Canada Wei Lu
Ferrari 488 GTE LMGTE AM 334 51 Laps
35 62 United States Cooper MacNeil
Finland Toni Vilander
United Kingdom Robert Smith
Ferrari 488 GTE LMGTE AM 333 52 Laps
36 77 Australia Matt Campbell
Germany Christian Ried
France Julien Andlauer
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 332 53 Laps
37 57 Japan Takeshi Kimura
Japan Kei Cozzolino
France Côme Ledogar
Ferrari 488 GTE LMGTE AM 332 53 Laps
38 78 Monaco Louis Prette
Monaco Philippe Prette
France Vincent Abril
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 332 53 Laps
39 61 Argentina Luis Perez Companc
Ireland Matthew Griffin
Italy Matteo Cressoni
Ferrari 488 GTE LMGTE AM 331 54 Laps
40 86 United Kingdom Michael Wainwright
United Kingdom Benjamin Barker
Germany Thomas Preining
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 331 54 Laps
41 83 Italy Manuela Gostner
Switzerland Rahel Frey
Denmark Michelle Gatting
Ferrari 488 GTE LMGTE AM 330 55 Laps
42 89 Brazil Pipo Derani
United Kingdom Oliver Jarvis
France Jules Gounon
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE PRO 329 56 Laps
43 70 Japan Motoaki Ishikawa
Monaco Olivier Beretta
Italy Eddie Cheever III
Ferrari 488 GTE LMGTE AM 328 57 Laps
44 90 Turkey Salih Yoluc
United Kingdom Euan Hankey
Ireland Charles Eastwood
Aston Martin Vantage LMGTE AM 327 58 Laps
45 54 Switzerland Thomas Flohr
Italy Francesco Castellacci
Italy Giancarlo Fisichella
Ferrari 488 GTE LMGTE AM 327 58 Laps
46 97 United Kingdom Alex Lynn
Belgium Maxime Martin
United Kingdom Jonathan Adam
Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGTE PRO 325 60 Laps
47 34 Poland Jakub Smiechowski
United Kingdom James Winslow
United Kingdom Nigel Moore
Ligier JSP 217 LMP2 325 60 Laps
48 60 Italy Claudio Schiavoni
Italy Andrea Piccini
Italy Sergio Pianezzola
Ferrari 488 GTE LMGTE AM 324 61 Laps
49 81 Netherlands Nick Catsburg
Germany Martin Tomczyk
Austria Philipp Eng
BMW M8 GTE LMGTE PRO 309 76 Laps
  43 Canada John Farano
India Arjun Maini
France Norman Nato
Oreca 07 LMP2 295 90 Laps
  31 Mexico Roberto Gonzalez
Venezuela Pastor Maldonado
United Kingdom Anthony Davidson
Oreca 07 LMP2 245 140 Laps
  37 Denmark David Heinemeier Hansson
United Kingdom Jordan King
United States Ricky Taylor
Oreca 07 LMP2 199 186 Laps
  17 France Stéphane Sarrazin
Russian Federation Egor Orudzhev
Russian Federation Sergey Sirotkin
BR Engineering BR1 LMP1 163 222 Laps
  4 France Tom Dillmann
United Kingdom Oliver Webb
Italy Paolo Ruberti
ENSO CLM P1/01 LMP1 163 222 Laps
  49 Slovakia Miro Konopka
Sweden Henning Enqvist
Russian Federation Konstantin Tereshchenko
Ligier JSP 217 LMP2 160 225 Laps
  71 Italy Davide Rigon
United Kingdom Sam Bird
Spain Miguel Molina
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE PRO 140 245 Laps
  95 Denmark Marco Sorensen
Denmark Nicki Thiim
United Kingdom Darren Turner
Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGTE PRO 132 253 Laps
  98 Canada Paul Dalla Lana
Portugal Pedro Lamy
Austria Mathias Lauda
Aston Martin Vantage LMGTE AM 87 298 Laps
  64 United Kingdom Oliver Gavin
United States Tommy Milner
Switzerland Marcel Fassler
Chevrolet Corvette C7R LMGTE PRO 82 303 Laps
  88 Japan Satoshi Hoshino
Italy Giorgio Roda
Italy Matteo Cairoli
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 79 306 Laps
  10 Sweden Henrik Hedman
United Kingdom Ben Hanley
Netherlands Renger van der Zande
BR Engineering BR1 LMP1 76 309 Laps
Le Mans 24h: Drama as #7 Toyota loses lead with an hour to go
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