Driven

THE LONG-AWAITED SPEC­TA­CLE FI­NALLY AR­RIVES

- Im­ages © TOY­OTA GA­ZOO RAC­ING/AS­TON MARTIN RAC­ING Sports · Toyota · Toyota Motor Corporation · Fernando Alonso · Aston Martin Lagonda · Sébastien Buemi · Kazuki Nakajima · Brendon Hartley · Rebellion Racing

It looked to be on shaky ground, this an­nual spec­ta­cle of speed and longevity. When the time came, in June, for the 24 Hours of Le Mans to take place, the track was empty and fans of the big­gest World En­durance Cham­pi­onship event of the year had to get their rac­ing fix from the vir­tual edi­tion. Not that it didn’t de­liver – there was ac­tion aplenty… even if it was all hap­pen­ing on high-speed servers, in­stead of high-speed cor­ners.

Near-un­prece­dented it might have been, but not even this global pan­demic could dampen the rac­ers’ com­pet­i­tive spir­its. The 2020 edi­tion of the Le Mans 24 Hours was a go, and oh, what a race it has been!

For Toy­ota, it seems that his­tory has a way of re­peat­ing it­self. For sev­eral decades, the Ja­panese out­fit re­lent­lessly com­peted but fell short of lift­ing the ul­ti­mate mo­tor­sport tro­phy. Then, in 2018, Fer­nando Alonso joined the team, and he, along with team­mates Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Naka­jima, com­pleted the long­est dis­tance over the 24-hour pe­riod and lifted the tro­phy – a first for Toy­ota on its 20th try. And then did it again in 2019. This year, how­ever, Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki

Naka­jima were joined by Bren­don Hart­ley and again, this gru­elling track smiled on Toy­ota.

Re­bel­lion Rac­ing fin­ished in sec­ond af­ter the team an­nounced that it will not com­pete again in 2021, while the num­ber seven Toy­ota Ga­zoo Rac­ing en­try stood on the third step of the LMP1 podium. The 22 United Au­tosports won the LMP2 cat­e­gory fol­low­ing a tight in-class race that def­i­nitely de­liv­ered on the spec­ta­cle front, with As­ton Martin hav­ing one of its best-ever race week­ends as it clinched vic­to­ries in both the GTE Pro and Am classes.

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