In a race of perfect reliability, Toyota Gazoo Racing secured their first ever 24 Hours of Le Mans victory, with the #8 of Kazuki Nakajima, Sebastien Buemi and Fernando Alonso ending more than two laps clear of the #7 of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez.
The team was never headed or seriously challenged from the privateer entries, and the two hybrid entries ended a considerable distance clear of the rest of the field. It was the second victory of the year for the #8 after its triumph in the season-opening Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps last month, with Alonso now two wins from two outings in the FIA World Endurance Championship and now two-thirds of his way through the Triple Crown he so desperately wants to win.
After it’s slow lap in hour 23, the #7 Toyota was handed a ten-second stop and go penalty for exceeding it’s fuel allowance, further giving the sister #8 an advantage at the front. The car was then handed a secondary penalty for exceeding the maximum number of laps allowed in a stint, with the car having run twelve with only eleven allowed.
The #3 Rebellion Racing machine of Gustavo Menezes, Thomas Laurent and Mathias Beche completed the podium in the leading privateer LMP1 entry, while the sister #1 of Andre Lotterer, Neel Jani and Bruno Senna ended fourth despite suffering the same two penalties in the closing stages that the #7 Toyota did.
Despite being almost one hundred laps down, the #5 CEFC TRSM Racing Ginetta saw the chequered flag, with Charlie Robertson bringing the car home in what was primarily an extended test session for the team.
Unfortunately, after making its way from the back up to fifth in class, the #11 SMP Racing BR Engineering BR1-AER of Jenson Button ground to a halt at Indianapolis with less than sixty minutes remaining. The Briton was hoping to get the one remaining SMP Racing machine to the chequered flag after the sister #17 heartbreakingly retired overnight while in the hands of Matevos Isaakyan, but an engine failure put paid to the 2009 Formula 1 World Champion’s chances.
The #26 G-Drive Racing Oreca had long been in control of the LMP2 class, and the trio of Jean-Eric Vergne, Roman Rusinov and Andrea Pizzitola kept their cool to take the race honours by more than two laps from their nearest competitors.
The #36 Signatech Alpine Matmut of Nicholas Lapierre, Andre Negrao and Pierre Thiriet was clear in second place, while the #39 Graff-So24 Oreca of Tristan Gommendy, Jonathan Hirschi and Vincent Capillaire holding off the late challenge from the #28 TDS Racing Oreca of Loic Duval, Francois Perrodo and Matthieu Vaxiviere, the two cars just 2.539 seconds apart at the chequered flag.
The puncture with a couple of hours to go ended United Autosports’ chances of a podium, but the #32 Ligier of Hugo de Sadeleer, Will Owen and Juan Pablo Montoya finished an excellent fifth.
There was a late stop and go penalty for the #35 SMP Racing machine of Harrison Newey for receiving outside assistance in the pit lane while the engine was on. The car that he shared with Norman Nato and Victor Shaitar finished twelfth in class.
The Porsche GT Team overcame the early morning charge from Ford Chip Ganassi Racing to claim a well-deserved one-two finish in the GTE Pro class, with the retro-livered #92 of Michael Christensen, Kevin Estre and Laurens Vanthoor ending ahead of the #91 of Richard Lietz, Gianmaria Bruni and Frédéric Makowiecki.
Ford gave it their all in a bid to prevent Porsche from taking the win, but were forced to settle for third and fourth, the #68 of Dirk Mueller, Sebastien Bourdais and Joey Hand ahead of the #67 of Harry Tincknell, Andy Priaulx and Tony Kanaan.
Corvette Racing rounded out the top five, with the #63 of Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen and Mike Rockenfeller finishing ahead of the leading AF Corse Ferrari, the #52 of Toni Vilander, Luis Felipe Derani and Antonio Giovinazzi.
With Patrick Dempsey watching on from the pit garage, his Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche took the honours in GTE Am, with Christian Ried bringing the car he shared with Matt Campbell and Julien Andlauer home.
The car has long been in the lead, withstanding the pressure from both the #54 Spirit of Race Ferrari and the #85 Keating Motorsports Ferrari, both of whom finished on the lead lap.
The #54 of Giancarlo Fisichella, Francesco Castellacci and Thomas Flohr ended one minute and thirty-nine seconds back in second place, while the #85 of Jeroen Bleekemolen, Ben Keating and Luca Stolz completed the podium, a lap down at the end.
The top five was rounded out by the #99 Proton Competition Porsche of Patrick Long, Timothy Pappas and Spencer Pumpelly, and the #84 JMW Motorsport Ferrari of Liam Griffin, Cooper Macneil and Jeffrey Segal.
2018 24 Hours of Le Mans – Standings After 24 Hours
- #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing– Toyota TS050 – Hybrid – Fernando Alonso – Sébastien Buemi – Kazuki Nakajima
- #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing– Toyota TS050 – Hybrid – Mike Conway – Kamui Kobayashi – José María López.
- #3 Rebellion Racing – Rebellion R13 – Gibson – Thomas Laurent – Mathias Beche – Gustavo Menezes
- #26 G-Drive Racing– Oreca 07 – Gibson – Roman Rusinov – Andrea Pizzitola – Jean-Éric Vergne
- #36 Signatech Alpine Matmut – Alpine A470 – Gibson – Nicolas Lapierre – André Negrâo – Pierre Thiriet
- #28 TDS Racing – Oreca 07 – Gibson – François Perrodo – Matthieu Vaxiviere – Loïc Duval
- #92 Porsche GT Team – Porsche 911 RSR – Michael Christensen – Kevin Estre – Laurens Vanthoor
- #91 Porsche GT Team– Porsche 911 RSR – Gianmaria Bruni – Richard Leitz – Frédéric Makowiecki
- #68 Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA – Ford GT – Sébastien Bourdais – Joey Hand – Dirk Müller
- #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing– Porsche 911 RSR – Julien Andlauer – Matt Campbell – Christian Ried
- #54 Spirit of Race– Ferrari 488 GTE – Francesco Castellacci – Giancarlo Fisichella – Thomas Flöhr
- #85 Keating Motorsport– Ferrari 488 GTE – Jeroen Bleekemolen – Ben Keating – Luca Stolz