Winning Le Mans without Audi/Porsche "a shame" - Toyota

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Winning Le Mans without Audi/Porsche
By: Jack Cozens
Jun 18, 2018, 11:33 AM

Toyota says it was a "shame" its former World Endurance Championship LMP1 rivals Audi and Toyota were not at Le Mans for the manufacturer's first win in the 24 Hours.

#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050: Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima, Fernando Alonso celebrates the win on track
Overall podium: winners Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima, Fernando Alonso, Toyota Gazoo Racing, second place Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez, third place Mathias Beche, Gustavo Menezes, Thomas Laurent, Rebellion Racing
Fernando Alonso, Toyota Gazoo Racing
#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050: Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima, Fernando Alonso and #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050: Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez
#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050: Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima, Fernando Alonso crosses he finish line with #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050: Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, Jose Maria Lopez at the checkered flag for the win
#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050: Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima, Fernando Alonso

The #8 TS050 HYBRID of Fernando Alonso, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima beat the sister #7 by two laps to finally end Toyota's wait for a victory in the endurance race on Sunday.

Toyota was six minutes from winning in 2016 when Kazuki Nakajima lost power in the #5 car, handing the #2 Porsche victory and giving Audi a podium in its final year at Le Mans.

The Japanese manufacturer also dominated the early part of last year's race before two of its cars suffered technical issues and the third was eliminated in a crash, allowing its only LMP1 manufacturer rival Porsche to recover to win the race.

"Finally! I think we deserved this," Leupen told Motorsport.com. "I'm very happy.

"We could have skipped what happened to Kamui [Kobayashi, who picked up two late 10-second stop/go penalties in the #7 Toyota after failing to pit on the correct lap], that should not have happened.

"Of course it's a bit of a shame that Audi and Porsche weren't here with us, but this is good enough. We are happy with it."

Leupen added that the victory had not removed the pain of Toyota's recent Le Mans defeats.

"No, no. That's not possible," he said when asked if the victory made up for Toyota's misfortune in recent years.

"But that's the beauty of this experience, it's all part of it and every year is different."

Toyota Motorsport GmbH technical director Pascal Vasselon described the victory as a "relief".

"It took too long basically for us to get this win," said Vasselon.

"Three times in the past we have been very close to making it but every time something exceptional was happening. This time went well."

Additional reporting by Sergio Lillo and Filip Cleeren

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About this article

Series Le Mans
Event 24 Hours of Le Mans
Location Circuit de la Sarthe
Teams Toyota Racing
Author Jack Cozens
Article type Breaking news