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.