Toyota breaks its curse, Alonso feeling the 'rhythm of the night'

Toyota breaks its curse, Alonso feeling the 'rhythm of the night'

Toyota breaks its curse, Alonso feeling the 'rhythm of the night'

He explained a loss of concentration was behind the mistake that resulted in the #7 Toyota TS050 HYBRID he shared with Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez dropping a lap behind the winning vehicle.

"Le Mans once a year is not enough!"

Toyota has at last won the 24 Hours of Le Mans, breaking a decades-long curse of bad luck and near-misses and taking the top two spots.

The two-time Formula One world champion is pursuing motor racing's Triple Crown - winning the Monaco Grand Prix, Le Mans and Indianapolis 500 - and ticked off the second of the three prizes in France.

That put Alonso's number eight vehicle more than two minutes - two thirds of a lap - behind and apparently facing an uphill struggle to get back into contention.

The number 7 vehicle was always out of reach. A number of penalties in the closing laps meant that it finished two laps down in second place.

The result was never really in any doubt as the number 8 vehicle qualified on pole and led the race from the outset.

The Spaniard helped end Toyota's wait for success at Circuit de la Sarthe, as he combined with teammates Sebastian Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima to triumph in the famous endurance race.

They started from pole position on Saturday afternoon after Japanese former Williams driver Nakajima posted the fastest time in qualifying for their number eight vehicle. The 2009 world champion, racing with ex-F1 driver Vitaly Petrov and Mikhail Aleshin, dropped out of the running when they lost two hours in the pits and ultimately retired in the final hour when their engine failed.

In an era when modern drivers tend to specialise in one category, such is the demand of the individual championships, that it would be a remarkable achievement for Alonso.

The triumph, expected after champions Porsche withdrew past year, came at the 20th attempt for Toyota who became only the second Japanese manufacturer to win the world's greatest endurance race after Mazda in 1991.

It just shows the effects of downforce and diffuser pressure as cars attain blistering speeds across the track. Former rivals Porsche and Audi pulled out after past year in the wake of the parent company Volkswagen's diesel scandal.

"It was a tense 24 hours, with two cars within a minute for most of the race".

Nakajimi and Buemi saw the race out in a historic win not only for Alonso or Toyota, but also for Japan.

But the magnitude of Sunday's win was every bit as big for Alonso's team mates.

Related news