New Zealand’s Brendon Hartley won the 24-hour Le Mans for the fifth year in a row on Sunday with the checkered flag to become the triple champion.
Swiss driver Sebastian Buemi, now four-time winner of the world’s greatest endurance race, and Japanese first-timer Rio Hirakawa shared the overall victory in the No. 8 GR010 Hybrid Hypercar.
The number seven Toyota, made by last year’s winner Mike Conway of Britain, Kamui Kobayashi of Japan and Jose Maria Lopez of Argentina, has confirmed a predictable one-to-one finish on the circuit.
Glykenhouse Racing’s car number 709 completed the podium with Britain’s Richard Westbrook, French driver Frank Melliux and American Ryan Brisco but they were in a different league from Toyota who had no real rivals.
Hartley won Le Mans with Porsche in 2017 and Toyota in 2020 when he replaced two-time Formula One world champion and Double Le Mans winner Fernando Alonso of Spain.
Buemi has taken all four of its victories with the Japanese manufacturer.
“Unless I change cars, I’ll never catch him,” Kiwi joked, securing the pole position on Thursday.
Toyota was the only major manufacturer of five Hypercars, a situation that will change next year as Peugeot, Ferrari, Porsche and Cadillac move forward and offer more competition.
Le Mans has a habit of biting the back and choosing his winner, and reliability can never be denied as the crew number seven discovered.
The two Toyota switched leads and most of the first 16 hours were separated for only a few seconds until a technical problem arose.
Lopez slowed Arnage in the lap of the 256, which required a reset on the side of the track to the motor generator unit before he could return to the hole with a stop for more than three minutes, which became the defining moment of the race.
Argentina then slowed down, losing more time.
The 38-pair LMP2, shared by Portugal’s Antonio Felix da Costa, Britain’s Will Stevens and Mexico’s Roberto Gonzalez, won second place.
Founded in 1923 and now in its 90th edition, the race began in sunny conditions and the 62-strong arena was enthralled by the 244,200 crowds that were freed from the recent COVID-19 restrictions.
Among the drivers is 16-year-old American Josh Pearson, who is the youngest ever competitor and finisher in the second tier LMP2 division with United Autosports – 10th overall.
German-Irish Hollywood actor Michael Fassbender also rode a Porsche 911 and had an eventful race that kept his mechanics busy.
The whole field was using 100% renewable energy for the first time.
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