Toyota Gazoo Racing take Le Mans Hat-Trick

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Toyota Gazoo Racing earned a third consecutive overall Le Mans 24 Hours win with the TS050 Hybrid after a turbulent and successful race at the Circuit de la Sarthe.

Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley completed over 3,100 miles of a gruelling race, held for only the second time in September, and won by five laps in the No8 TS050 Hybrid, to take the lead in the drivers’ World Championship.

This was their third consecutive Le Mans triumph and they join only seven previous drivers who have achieved that feat in the race’s 97-year history, while Brendon won for the second time following his victory in 2017.

The pole position No7 TS050 Hybrid of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López had looked on course for their first win at La Sarthe until an exhaust problem, although they fought back to earn third place in the dramatic final 70 minutes.


The victory, in the penultimate round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), means Toyota Gazoo Racing is crowned Teams’ World Champions, holding an unassailable 57-point lead over Rebellion Racing, its third title following those in 2014, 2018 and 2019.

The race marked the final appearance at Le Mans for the 1,000PS, four-wheel-drive TS050 Hybrid which has set a new standard for efficiency and performance at La Sarthe. Using 35 per cent less fuel than the first generation of LMP1 hybrids from 2012, the TS050 Hybrid performs around 10 seconds a lap faster. It holds the fastest ever lap and the race lap record alongside its four consecutive pole positions and three victories.

Those achievements inspired the GR Super Sport, a hypercar born in Le Mans and it made its public track debut moments before the race started. A customised development version completed a demonstration lap before returning the winners’ trophy just before the 1.30pm start, (UK time) for which the No7 lined up on pole position, with the No8 in third.

Aside from 10 laps around the six hour mark, the No7 held the advantage at the front of the field, building a one lap lead by half distance. But shortly before 3am, with Kamui at the wheel, it suffered reduced power which forced it into the garage. A damaged exhaust manifold was replaced in less than 30 minutes and Kamui re-joined in fourth place, six laps off the lead and four laps behind the third-placed No3 Rebellion.

That left the No8 in a clear lead, having recovered from its own troubles first with a puncture, then a debris-damaged brake duct which cost time at two pit stops before a 10 minute repair in the seventh hour. But they never gave up and fought back into second place before No7.

Sébastien, Kazuki and Brendon controlled the rest of the race from the front, establishing a five lap lead. For the third year in a row, Kazuki crossed the finish line to win the Le Mans 24 Hours, cementing his status as the most successful Japanese driver at La Sarthe.

Mike, Kamui and José initially made up ground on third place but the No7 sustained floor damage after hitting debris, which compromised aerodynamic performance. However, the podium battle came alive in the final hour when the No3 Rebellion first crashed on track and then could not exit the pits, allowing José to earn third, taking the flag six laps behind the sister No8 car and one lap adrift of the second placed No1 Rebellion.

A significant point swing in favour of the No8 crew at Le Mans means the race for the drivers’ World Championship title therefore goes down to the last race of the 2019-2020 season, on 14 November in Bahrain. The No8 car holds a seven point lead with a maximum of 39 available in Bahrain.