Published: Mon, June 18, 2018
Technology | By Nina Perez

Fernando Alonso hails 'an incredible result' at maiden Le Mans

Fernando Alonso hails 'an incredible result' at maiden Le Mans

Toyota had to overcome a 60-second penalty earned by Buemi for speeding in a slow zone to triumph at the 19th attempt.

This year, he sought permission from McLaren to dovetail his F1 programme with an attempt to win Le Mans, which became an entry in the entire World Endurance Championship.

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.

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 presence of a sporting icon at Le Mans guaranteed the race, Toyota and the WEC far greater worldwide attention than had it been six lesser-known drivers competing in what was effectively a private Toyota battle.

The number 7 vehicle was always out of reach. One of its cars made the finish, albeit well down the order after numerous problems.

There was no joy for another former F1 champion, though.

It just shows the effects of downforce and diffuser pressure as cars attain blistering speeds across the track.

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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. Former rivals Porsche and Audi pulled out after a year ago in the wake of the parent company Volkswagen's diesel scandal.

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.

Before the race, Buemi who, like Nakajima, had been vainly chasing a Le Mans victory since 2012, said Alonso "was a real plus for the team".

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.

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

He will be back in action for McLaren at the French Grand Prix next week, with the race returning to the calendar for the first time since 2008.

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