Toyota claims Le Mans hat-trick on LMP1 swansong

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Toyota Gazoo Racing completed a hat-trick of Le Mans 24 Hours wins as Kazuki Nakajima, Sebastien Buemi and Brendon Hartley piloted the #8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid to a third consecutive victory on the car’s swansong outing at La Sarthe.

It was a third win in a row for Nakajima and Buemi, who triumphed in 2018 and 2019 alongside Fernando Alonso, and a second win for Alonso’s replacement Hartley following his Porsche win in 2017.

For Toyota the spectator-less 2020 edition, in which the predicted rain threat never materialised, was another bittersweet rollercoaster journey. The Cologne-based outfit easily had the measure of the privateer Rebellion competition, but for the third year in a row its #7 crew of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez was denied a chance of a maiden Le Mans win due to mechanical issues.

During the long night, the #7 crew disappeared into the garage for 30 minutes to perform a turbo change, an issue which was eventually attributed to a problem on the exhaust manifold. At that point the #7 car had been leading by a lap after a front-right brake change for its #8 sibling, but then the #7 car lost seven laps and dropped to fourth behind the Rebellions. Further floor damage prevented Kobayashi, Conway and Lopez from recovering lost ground.

The two-car Rebellion team had some issues of its own, including a dislodged nose on the #1 Rebellion R-13 and a late slow stop for car #3, but the Swiss outfit came through and looked on its way to score a double podium on its Le Mans farewell.

The #1 Rebellion R-13 of Gustavo Menezes, Bruno Senna and Norman Nato finished second five laps behind the winning Toyota, but the #3 sister car of Romain Dumas, Nathanael Berthon and Louis Deletraz lost a podium spot with one hour to go after Deletraz went off at Indianapolis and tagged the tyre wall with his right rear, prompting a six-minute stop to fix a clutch issue.

Rebellion’s late misfortune handed Toyota’s #7 car third place overall.

The fifth and final car in a depleted LMP1 class, the #4 ByKolles ENSO CLM P1/01, retired on Saturday night after a crash for Bruno Spengler in the Esses when his rear wing failed, which curtailed another problematic run for the German privateer outfit that was also hit with an alternator problem.

LMP2: United Autosports continues miraculous run, takes title

The 24-car LMP2 battle was a much more tightly contested affair for most of the race, in which the two-car United Autosports team proved the class of the field.

The #22 Oreca of Paul di Resta, Filipe Albuquerque and Phil Hanson, which had started the race from pole, took control when the #32 sister car of Alex Brundle, Job van Uitert and Will Owen hit trouble with an oil leak on Sunday morning.

That released the #38 JOTA Sport Oreca of Antonio Felix da Costa, Anthony Davidson and Roberto Gonzalez into second place. The #38 crew, which lost around minute when due to an extra pitstop at night to address a twisted seat belt, hovered around 1m30s behind the leading #22 car for much of the morning.

The battle for the class win came to life again in the final laps, when it became apparent that Hanson would need to make an additional stop for fuel. Hanson came out just six seconds ahead of Davidson, but was relieved when Davidson also dove into the pits for a splash with two laps to go.

Hanson brought the #22 car of the Anglo-American team to the finish some 40 seconds ahead of JOTA’s Davidson, provisionally clinching the FIA WEC LMP2 title.

The #26 G-Drive Aurus-badged Oreca of Roman Rusinov, Jean-Eric Vergne and Mikkel Jensen, which was hit by electrical problems overnight, was on its way to third until Vergne had to box with suspension damage in the final hour, dropping down to fifth.

G-Drive’s delay promoted the #31 Panis Racing Oreca of Mathieu Vaxiviere, Julien Canal and Nico Jamin to third. There was more late drama in LMP2 when James Allen suffered a hard crash at Porsche Curves in the fourth-placed #39 Graff Oreca, which elevated the #36 Signatech Alpine Oreca to fourth despite its early water leak.

There was a highly commendable sixth in class for the #28 IDEC Sport Oreca, a crew which faced an uphill battle to rebuild the car after a practice crash, lacked track time and was forced to start from the pitlane. Its #17 sister car faced a similar fate and also finished the race.

GTE: Aston Martin triumphs over Ferrari

The eight-car GTE Pro battle turned into a two-horse race between the #51 AF Corse Ferrari of James Calado, Alessandro Pier Guidi and Daniel Serra and the #97 Aston Martin of Alex Lynn, Maxime Martin and Ford refugee Harry Tincknell.

The #97 Aston had a leg up on the Ferrari throughout the morning, a triumphant Lynn crossing the line some 1m40s ahead of his rival Calado to gift Aston Martin its first Le Mans GTE Pro win since 2017.

The sister cars of Aston Martin and Ferrari were initially in the hunt as well, but in the #71 AF Corse Ferrari Sam Bird suffered a puncture on Sunday morning, which wreaked havoc on the right-rear corner of the 488 GTE and cost it three laps. The #95 Aston also gradually lost time, which started on Saturday night when it was delayed under safety car conditions.

The #95 car driven by Marco Sorensen, Nicki Thiim and Richard Westbrook bagged third, while Rigon's #71 Ferrari suffered a broken gearbox on the last lap while running fourth. That promoted the #82 Risi Competizione Ferrari to fourth, following a damper failure that caused Sebastien Bourdais to spin off in the night.

Both factory Porsche entries endured a disastrous race. Gianmaria Bruni started on pole in the #91 Porsche 911 RSR-19 but immediately dropped down the order with an undiagnosed acceleration problem, which also plagued the sister #92 car throughout the race. The latter also spent a lot of time in the garage with a power steering issue.

The #91 car finished sixth ahead of the #92 entry, the last two finishing cars in class. The #63 WeatherTech Racing car retired after Toni Vilander clashed with Nyck de Vries in the #29 Racing Team Nederland Oreca LMP2.

In GTE Am, the #90 TF Sport Aston of Jonathan Adam, Charlie Eastwood and Salih Yoluc romped home to a comfortable win to make it a clean sweep of wins in GTE for Aston Martin, after suspension issues for the factory-entered #98 Aston that was also in contention for most of the first half of the race.

A late safety car bunched up the three cars squabbling over the remaining GTE Am podium positions. In the #56 Team Project 1 Porsche Matteo Cairoli tried to hold off the #77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche of Matt Campbell and the #83 AF Corse Ferrari of Nicklas Nielsen, but lost out in the second Mulsanne chicane and Mulsanne corner respectively.

Cairoli tried to retaliate in the Ford chicane, but made contact with Nielsen and remained in fourth. Campbell finished second for Dempsey-Proton, ahead of Nielsen’s AF Corse Ferrari.

Race results:

Cla # Drivers Car Class Laps Gap Interval
1 8 Switzerland Sébastien Buemi
Japan Kazuki Nakajima
New Zealand Brendon Hartley
Toyota TS050 Hybrid LMP1 387    
2 1 Brazil Bruno Senna
France Norman Nato
United States Gustavo Menezes
Rebellion R13 LMP1 382 5 Laps 5 Laps
3 7 United Kingdom Mike Conway
Japan Kamui Kobayashi
Argentina Jose Maria Lopez
Toyota TS050 Hybrid LMP1 381 6 Laps 1 Lap
4 3 France Romain Dumas
France Nathanael Berthon
Switzerland Louis Deletraz
Rebellion R13 LMP1 381 6 Laps 39.408
5 22 United Kingdom Philip Hanson
Portugal Filipe Albuquerque
United Kingdom Paul di Resta
Oreca 07 LMP2 370 17 Laps 11 Laps
6 38 United Kingdom Anthony Davidson
Portugal Antonio Felix da Costa
Mexico Roberto Gonzalez
Oreca 07 LMP2 370 17 Laps 32.831
7 31 France Nico Jamin
France Julien Canal
France Matthieu Vaxiviere
Oreca 07 LMP2 368 19 Laps 2 Laps
8 36 Brazil Andre Negrao
France Pierre Ragues
France Thomas Laurent
Alpine A470 LMP2 367 20 Laps 1 Lap
9 26 Russian Federation Roman Rusinov
France Jean-Eric Vergne
Denmark Mikkel Jensen
Aurus 01 LMP2 367 20 Laps 57.578
10 28 France Paul Lafargue
France Paul-Loup Chatin
United Kingdom Richard Bradley
Oreca 07 LMP2 366 21 Laps 1 Lap
11 42 France Nicolas Lapierre
Switzerland Antonin Borga
Switzerland Alexandre Coigny
Oreca 07 LMP2 365 22 Laps 1 Lap
12 25 United States John Falb
Switzerland Simon Trummer
United States Matt McMurry
Oreca 07 LMP2 365 22 Laps 1'31.640
13 50 Colombia Tatiana Calderon
Germany Sophia Flörsch
Netherlands Beitske Visser
Oreca 07 LMP2 364 23 Laps 1 Lap
14 47 Italy Roberto Lacorte
Italy Andrea Belicchi
Italy Giorgio Sernagiotto
Dallara P217 LMP2 363 24 Laps 1 Lap
15 17 United States Dwight Merriman
United Kingdom Kyle Tilley
United Kingdom Jonathan Kennard
Oreca 07 LMP2 363 24 Laps 51.762
16 27 Sweden Henrik Hedman
United Kingdom Ben Hanley
Netherlands Renger van der Zande
Oreca 07 LMP2 361 26 Laps 2 Laps
17 32 United States Will Owen
United Kingdom Alex Brundle
Netherlands Job Van Uitert
Oreca 07 LMP2 359 28 Laps 2 Laps
18 35 Japan Nobuya Yamanaka
Australia Nick Foster Jr.
Spain Roberto Merhi
Ligier JSP 217 LMP2 351 36 Laps 8 Laps
19 29 Netherlands Frits van Eerd
Netherlands Giedo van der Garde
Netherlands Nyck de Vries
Oreca 07 LMP2 349 38 Laps 2 Laps
20 97 Belgium Maxime Martin
United Kingdom Alex Lynn
United Kingdom Harry Tincknell
Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGTE PRO 346 41 Laps 3 Laps
21 51 Italy Alessandro Pier Guidi
United Kingdom James Calado
Brazil Daniel Serra
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE PRO 346 41 Laps 1'33.164
22 95 Denmark Nicki Thiim
Denmark Marco Sorensen
United Kingdom Richard Westbrook
Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGTE PRO 343 44 Laps 3 Laps
23 82 France Olivier Pla
France Sébastien Bourdais
France Jules Gounon
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE PRO 339 48 Laps 4 Laps
24 90 Turkey Salih Yoluc
Ireland Charles Eastwood
United Kingdom Jonathan Adam
Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGTE AM 339 48 Laps 1'33.407
25 77 Germany Christian Ried
Italy Riccardo Pera
Australia Matt Campbell
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 339 48 Laps 49.752
26 83 France François Perrodo
France Emmanuel Collard
Denmark Nicklas Nielsen
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 339 48 Laps 3.047
27 56 Norway Egidio Perfetti
Netherlands Larry ten Voorde
Italy Matteo Cairoli
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 339 48 Laps 8.320
28 24 Canada Garett Grist
United Kingdom Alex Kapadia
United Kingdom Tony Wells
Oreca 07 LMP2 338 49 Laps 1 Lap
29 86 United Kingdom Michael Wainwright
United Kingdom Benjamin Barker
United Kingdom Andrew Watson
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 337 50 Laps 1 Lap
30 66 United States Richard Heistand
United States Maxwell Root
Denmark Jan Magnussen
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 335 52 Laps 2 Laps
31 91 Italy Gianmaria Bruni
Austria Richard Lietz
France Frédéric Makowiecki
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE PRO 335 52 Laps 6.187
32 61 United States Francesco Piovanetti
Brazil Oswaldo Negri Jr.
France Côme Ledogar
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 335 52 Laps 2'43.684
33 98 Canada Paul Dalla Lana
United Kingdom Ross Gunn
Brazil Augusto Farfus
Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGTE AM 333 54 Laps 2 Laps
34 85 Italy Manuela Gostner
Switzerland Rahel Frey
Denmark Michelle Gatting
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 332 55 Laps 1 Lap
35 92 Denmark Michael Christensen
France Kevin Estre
Belgium Laurens Vanthoor
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 LMGTE PRO 331 56 Laps 1 Lap
36 99 Thailand Vutthikorn Inthrapuvasak
Switzerland Lucas Legeret
France Julien Andlauer
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 331 56 Laps 1'23.705
37 60 Italy Claudio Schiavoni
Italy Sergio Pianezzola
Italy Paolo Ruberti
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 331 56 Laps 1'35.120
38 78 Austria Horst Felbermayr Jr.
Italy Michele Beretta
Netherlands Max van Splunteren
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 330 57 Laps 1 Lap
39 54 Switzerland Thomas Flohr
Italy Francesco Castellacci
Italy Giancarlo Fisichella
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 330 57 Laps 1'11.360
40 57 United States Ben Keating
Brazil Felipe Fraga
Netherlands Jeroen Bleekemolen
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 326 61 Laps 4 Laps
41 34 Poland Jakub Smiechowski
Austria Rene Binder
Russian Federation Matevos Isaakyan
Ligier JSP 217 LMP2 325 62 Laps 1 Lap
42 62 United Kingdom Bonamy Grimes
United Kingdom Johnny Mowlem
United Kingdom Charles Hollings
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 325 62 Laps 24.638
43 89 France Philippe Haezebrouck
France Julien Piguet
Greece Andreas Laskaratos
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 313 74 Laps 12 Laps
  39 Australia James Allen
France Vincent Capillaire
France Charles Milesi
Oreca 07 LMP2 357 30 Laps  
  71 Italy Davide Rigon
Spain Miguel Molina
United Kingdom Sam Bird
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE PRO 340 47 Laps 17 Laps
  72 Taiwan Han-Chen Chen
United Kingdom Tom Blomqvist
Brazil Marcos Gomes
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 273 114 Laps 67 Laps
  88 Austria Thomas Preining
United States Dominique Bastien
Belgium Adrien de Leener
Porsche 911 RSR LMGTE AM 238 149 Laps 35 Laps
  75 Italy Rino Mastronardi
Italy Matteo Cressoni
Italy Andrea Piccini
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 211 176 Laps 27 Laps
  21 Colombia Juan Pablo Montoya
France Timothé Buret
Mexico Memo Rojas
Oreca 07 LMP2 192 195 Laps 19 Laps
  63 United States Cooper MacNeil
Finland Toni Vilander
United States Jeff Segal
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE PRO 185 202 Laps 7 Laps
  70 Japan Takeshi Kimura
France Vincent Abril
Japan Kei Cozzolino
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 172 215 Laps 13 Laps
  16 Ireland Ryan Cullen
United Kingdom Oliver Jarvis
United Kingdom Nick Tandy
Aurus 01 LMP2 105 282 Laps 67 Laps
  30 Switzerland Jonathan Hirschi
Russian Federation Konstantin Tereshchenko
France Tristan Gommendy
Oreca 07 LMP2 100 287 Laps 5 Laps
  4 France Tom Dillmann
Canada Bruno Spengler
United Kingdom Oliver Webb
ENSO CLM P1/01 LMP1 97 290 Laps 3 Laps
  33 Japan Kenta Yamashita
United States Mark Patterson
Denmark Anders Fjordbach
Oreca 07 LMP2 88 299 Laps 9 Laps
  52 Switzerland Christoph Ulrich
Germany Steffen Gorig
Sweden Alexander West
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 80 307 Laps 8 Laps
  55 United Kingdom Duncan Cameron
United Kingdom Aaron Scott
Ireland Matthew Griffin
Ferrari 488 GTE EVO LMGTE AM 78 309 Laps 2 Laps
  11 France Adrien Tambay
France Erik Maris
Belgium Christophe d'Ansembourg
Ligier JSP 217 LMP2 26 361 Laps 52 Laps
  37 China Ho-Pin Tung
France Gabriel Aubry
United Kingdom Will Stevens
Oreca 07 LMP2 141 246 Laps 9:11'21.347
Le Mans 24h, H20: Rebellion issues put Toyota well clear

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About this article

Series Le Mans
Event 24 Hours of Le Mans
Sub-event Race
Teams Toyota Gazoo Racing WEC
Author Filip Cleeren