Toyota’s LMP1-H cars clinched a second 1-2 finish at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with Fernando Alonso and his teammates as the lead Toyota. However, there was a bit of controversy surrounding the team. A forced pit stop for the second Toyota had the lead swapped with only one hour to go.
The #8 Toyota, driven by Sebastien Buemi passed pole-sitter Kamui Kobayashi in the #7 car. However, the former Sauber F1 driver, Kobayashi retook the lead before the sun dawned on the Circuit de la Sarthe.
With one hour and one minute on the clock, Argentina’s Jose Maria Lopez took over at the wheel of the #7 Toyota. But then, disaster struck as Lopez slowed on track with a tyre pressure warning. He promptly dived into the pits and the other car, driven by Kazuki Nakajima, took the lead. Lopez came back out, but only the front-right tyre was brand new and the warning light was still on.
20 minutes later, Nakajima and his engineer exchanged several panicked radio messages. Finally, the frenzied driver was told to drive at ‘normal pace’, but there were talks of a possible position swap. In the end, Fernando Alonso, Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi sealed the FIA WEC drivers’ title for the 2018-19 Super Season. In addition to that, they also won both 24 Hours of Le Mans races of the extended calendar. Meanwhile, Mikhail Aleshin, Vitaly Petrov and Stoffel Vandoorne occupied the final podium spot.
Speaking to the media after the chequered flag, Swiss driver Buemi confessed that he had mixed feelings about the win. He said, “It doesn’t feel so good because car #7 deserved it – I can understand how they feel because it happened to us in 2016, so it doesn’t feel so good.”
The first 24 Hours of Le Mans race was also won by Fernando Alonso, Sebastien Buemi and Kazumi Nakajima.