New cham­pi­ons crowned in the 86th edi­tion


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Af­ter an in­tense and de­mand­ing 24 hours of rac­ing, it was re­demp­tion for TOY­OTA GA­ZOO Rac­ing at the 86th edi­tion of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Hav­ing come ex­tremely close in pre­vi­ous years, the No. 8 Toy­ota, with Kazuki Naka­jima at the wheel, reached the che­quered flag first af­ter a gru­elling 388 laps. The No. 7 sis­ter car fin­ished sec­ond, just two laps down, com­plet­ing a his­toric one-two for the Ja­panese man­u­fac­turer's maiden vic­tory at this iconic race. The 24 Hours of Le Mans al­ways re­quires the ut­most in per­for­mance and re­li­a­bil­ity from the drivers and teams – val­ues that res­onate closely with Rolex, the Of­fi­cial Time­piece of the race.

The two hy­brid cars led the field from start to fin­ish, mak­ing the most of their abil­ity to achieve longer stints than their fel­low Le Mans Pro­to­type 1 (LMP1) com­peti­tors. Dur­ing the night, the No. 7 Toy­ota topped the tim­ing sheets as the drivers bat­tled hard with traf­fic and slow zones, but it was the No. 8 that proved to have bet­ter pace. By day­break, it had reaf­firmed its strong hold on the race, pulling out a com­fort­able lead, which was re­tained to the flag. Be­hind them, Re­bel­lion Rac­ing con­firmed their sta­tus as the strong­est non-hy­brid LMP1 team se­cur­ing the third step on the podium with the No. 3 car. It was a dom­i­nant and ex­em­plary

dis­play by No. 26 G-drive Rac­ing in the LMP2 cat­e­gory who led from the first hour to win their class and fin­ish fifth in the over­all stand­ings.

As an­tic­i­pated, GT Rac­ing was fiercely com­pet­i­tive, with the Porsche cars leading across both classes for most of the 24 hours. In par­tic­u­lar, the LMGTE Pro cars kept spec­ta­tors on the edge of their seats as Porsche, Ford and Fer­rari bat­tled through­out, fin­ish­ing within just a cou­ple of laps of each other. Ul­ti­mately, it was the No. 92 Porsche GT Team that took the hon­ours, pip­ping the Porsche No. 91 to the line. There was more ex­cit­ing wheel-towheel rac­ing on dis­play in the LMGTE Am cat­e­gory with the pop­u­lar No. 77 Dempsey – Pro­ton Rac­ing fin­ish­ing first.

It was a mo­men­tous and im­por­tant win for FIA For­mula 1 World Cham­pion, Fer­nando Alonso, who has set out to claim motor sport's triple crown: vic­tory at the FOR­MULA 1 GRAND PRIX DE MONACO, 24 Hours of Le Mans and the In­di­anapo­lis 500. The Spa­niard be­comes only the fifth driver to win both in Monaco and at Le Mans. Af­ter the race, his team­mate, Kazuki Naka­jima said, “It has been a long time com­ing, I'm speech­less. To win this race has been a dream of ours. We man­aged to keep com­pletely fo­cused un­til the che­quered flag and that's what brought us vic­tory.”

The 24 Hours of Le Mans tran­scends motor sport and ex­em­pli­fies Rolex's strong as­so­ci­a­tion with the sport, founded on ex­cel­lence, in­no­va­tion and a pas­sion to push the bound­aries of what is pos­si­ble.

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