24 Hours of Le MansFeaturesFIA WEC

2020 24 Hours of Le Mans: Toyota Take Triple Victory as Aston Martin do the Double

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Brendon Hartley, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima celebrating their overall victory at the 2020 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Credit: FIA World Endurance Championship

The Toyota Gazoo Racing saw no further challenges in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, securing the Japanese manufacturer’s third win in a row and the third consecutive victory for the #8 car at the Circuit de la Sarthe. Aston Martin became the first manufacturer to win both GTE Pro and GTE Am in the same race.

The predicted thunderstorm never came to mix up the conditions at the 88th rendition of the prestigious race, meaning it was plain sailing for the #8 crew to take the overall victory. The Rebellion Racing cars had been on for a two-three finish, but a late issue for the #3 after a team orders dispute lost it its podium finish. Optimising on the #3’s misfortunes, the #7 Toyota was able to climb its way back onto the podium, keeping the FIA World Endurance Championship going until the final round in Bahrain two months from now.

The final 30 minutes of the race saw a lot of chaos in LMP2 class, with three cars having incidents and pulling out a very late Safety Car. The #26 G-Drive Racing was the first loss from the class, with Jean-Eric Vergne suffering a front suspension failure at Indianapolis. Luckily, the car just went straight on, suffering no further damage and the Frenchman was able to get it back to the pits, but the incident cost the team the third place finish they had worked hard to recover, instead ending fifth.

The second loss from the LMP2 class was the SO24-HAS by Graff #39, which had been an early favourite for the class win. Also possibly suffering a suspension failure, James Allen was pitched into the tyre barrier, spilling the tyres across the track. He was unfortunately unable to get back to the pits, with the car being moved behind the safety barriers during the Safety Car period.

Shuddering to a halt during to the Safety Car laps, the #21 DragonSpeed USA car was the last loss in the LMP2 class. A suspect electrical failure saw the car ground to a halt, with Juan Pablo Montoya left unable to do anything but slowly limp the car back to the pits. He was able to get back out and classified 19th in class.

But it was the #22 United Autosports who held onto the class victory, with Phil Hanson having a bit of pressure from Anthony Davidson in the JOTA #38 after he took a late pit stop. Hanson was forced to come into the pits from the lead, with Davidson chasing him down for the class lead after the Safety Car brought him back within reaching distance of the #22. However, when Davidson pit the lap after Hanson, also for a fuel only stop, the pressure was relieved from the young racer who competitively brought home the lead they had held since the 18th hour of the race.

When the Safety Cars split the AF Corse and Aston Martin, leaving James Calado 20 minutes to close down a three-minute lead, the win was Alex Lynn‘s to lose. He brought the car home cleanly, securing the British manufacturer their first GTE overall victory since 2017. It was a one-three at the chequered flag as Nicki Thiim brought home the #95 in third.

In what should have been a great finish for Ferrari, it was heartbreak for the #71 as Davide Rigon came to a halt on track during the final lap. As he did not cross the chequered flag within three minutes of the overall leader, the second AF Ferrari was not classified in the final result. The privateer Risi Competizione was promoted up to fourth in place of Rigon’s works car.

Due to the result and the double points that are handed out to the WEC runners at Le Mans, Aston Martin have secured the GT Manufacturer’s Championship with a race in hand.

Celebrations continued for the British marque as TF Sport claimed victory in Am, making them the first manufacturer to win both GTE categories in the same race. The Safety Car period helped the #90, keeping the pressure off Charlie Eastwood who breezed to the class victory. He was split from his closest rivals on track, but the final podium positions were to be fought over by the chasing group.

Matt Campbell came from third to take second with a bold move that saw the Dempsey-Proton Racing #77 off track to secure the position. At the time of posting, the car has not been handed any penalties for this move. The Team Project 1 #56 lost its podium finish due to lack of pace after the Safety Car restart, with both Campbell and Nicklas Nielsen in the #83 AF Corsica demoting Matteo Cairoli down to fourth to claim the podium.

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