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Toyota win Le Mans with double Formula One champion Fernando Alonso

Toyota win Le Mans with double Formula One champion Fernando Alonso

McLaren ace Alonso was driving for Toyota alongside Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastian Buemi, with the trio holding off the team's sister vehicle to take a gruelling victory.

Alonso shared the driving at Le Mans in the Toyota No8 and clearly demonstrated his skill and adaptability as a driver to the 256,900 spectators. And Alonso's chances of Le Mans success had appeared to fade with 14 hours to go when the #8 Toyota dropped two minutes behind when Buemi collected a stop-go just after midnight.

In LMP2, it was the G-Drive Racing machine of Roman Rusinov, Jean-Eric Vergne and Andrea Pizzitola that emerged victorious, taking victory in the second prototype class by an impressive two laps, beating the #36 Signatech Alpine Matmut auto of Nicolas Lapierre, Andre Negrao and Pierre Thiriet.

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.

Alonso, a double Monaco Grand Prix victor and twice F1 world champion, is aiming for the "Triple Crown of Motorsport", and the Indianapolis 500 is now the only box remaining to be ticked.

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

It seemed to be a case of "oh no, not again" for Toyota when Kamui Kobayashi in the number 7 auto slowed down to 80km/h with what seemed like a fueling problem heading towards the end of the race.

The 36-year old Spaniard and team-mates Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi secured a two-lap victory.

It was the No. 8 auto of Fernando Alonso, Kazuki Nakajima, and Sébastien Buemi that took the checkered flag.

And Kobayashi missed a pit stop in the penultimate hour and had to complete much of a lap on electrical power alone because he did not have enough fuel. 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.

Fernando Alonso has always been regarded as one of the all-time great racing drivers and the best along with Lewis Hamilton in the current era of F1, but he has found success hard to come by in grands prix in recent years. However, as time has shown, having the fastest auto is no guarantee of success.

Expected to dominate the 86th edition of the race, as the only major manufacturer in the top LMP1 category after champions Porsche withdrew a year ago, Toyota's victory came at the 20th attempt.

Alonso's hopes had appeared to dim as the race entered the early hours, with his vehicle two minutes adrift of the sister Toyota after a stop-go penalty.

Nakajima had also been part of the Toyota team in 2016 when the auto had faltered in the last three minutes of the race, robbing them of victory.

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

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