Fernando Alonso wins Le Mans 24 with Toyota

Fernando Alonso wins Le Mans 24 with Toyota

Fernando Alonso wins Le Mans 24 with Toyota

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 vehicle of Nicolas Lapierre, Andre Negrao and Pierre Thiriet.

Toyota joins Mazda as the only Japanese manufacturers to win the event, when they did so back in 1991.

The Spaniard shared the number eight TS050 hybrid with Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan's Kazuki Nakajima, who had taken pole position on Thursday and drove the final stint to the chequered flag.

Alonso skipped last year's Monaco Grand Prix to tackle the Indianapolis 500, but was forced to retire with an engine failure while battling for the lead.

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 Rebellion machines were the only non-hybrid privateer cars to avoid major issues.

But in a series of stints in the dead of night, Alonso clawed back the deficit and put the number eight auto right back on the tail of the number seven.

In the end, the only competition to Alonso and his co-drivers Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi came from the sister #7 Toyota. It later turnout out that Kamui Kobayashi had simply forgotten to pit and was asked to conserve fuel to make it through the lap.

But in the end, both cars made it to the finish, to complete the company's dream result - a one-two, with Alonso's vehicle the victor.

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The vehicle will form the base of a racer, set to compete in the just-announced "hypercar" class of the FIA World Endurance Championship when new regulations take force in 2020. However, as time has shown, having the fastest vehicle is no guarantee of success.

Three years of poor reliability and performance, and an apparent lack of interest in signing the ageing champion from the top three teams, broadened his outlook beyond F1.

There have been questions about whether it was a demonstration rather than a race, because of the obvious promotional benefits for all involved if Alonso won.

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

In 2016, Nakajima had also been heading for victory when he slowed with five minutes remaining and came to a halt with victory falling into Porsche's lap.

Either way, the win is likely only to enhance his status as one of motorsport's iconic historical figures.

Alonso now just needs to win the Indy 500.

These questions will be hanging over him when he returns to his F1 role with McLaren at next weekend's French Grand Prix.

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