Le Mans 24 Hours: Nakajima, Buemi, Hartley secure hat-trick of wins for Toyota

Toyota Gazoo Racing has completed a hat-trick of wins at the 2020 Le Mans 24 Hours as Kazuki Nakajima, Sebastien Buemi and Brendon Hartley piloted the #8 to victory

Le Mans 24 Hours: Nakajima, Buemi, Hartley secure hat-trick of wins for Toyota

It was a third win in a row for Nakajima and Buemi, who triumphed in 2018 and 2019 alongside Fernando Alonso, and a second win for Alonso's replacement Hartley following his Porsche win in 2017.

For Toyota the spectator-less 2020 edition, in which the predicted rain threat never materialised, was another bittersweet rollercoaster journey. The Cologne-based outfit easily had the measure of the privateer Rebellion competition, but for the third year in a row its #7 crew of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez were denied a chance of a maiden Le Mans win due to mechanical issues.

During the longer night phase with the race held in September, the #7 crew disappeared into the garage for 30 minutes to perform a turbo change, an issue which was eventually attributed to a problem on the exhaust manifold.

At that point the #7 car had been leading by a lap after a front-right brake change for its #8 sibling, but then the #7 car lost seven laps and dropped to fourth behind the Rebellions. Further floor damage prevented Kobayashi, Conway and Lopez from recovering lost ground.

The two-car Rebellion team had some issues of its own, including a dislodged nose on the #1 Rebellion R-13 and a slow stop for car #3, but the Swiss outfit came through and looked on its way to score a double podium on its Le Mans farewell.

The #1 Rebellion R-13 of Gustavo Menezes, Bruno Senna and Norman Nato finished second five laps behind the winning Toyota, but the #3 sister car of Romain Dumas, Nathanael Berthon and Louis Deletraz lost a certain podium spot with one hour to go after Deletraz went off at Indianapolis and tagged the tyre wall with his right rear, prompting a six-minute stop to fix a clutch issue.

Rebellion's late misfortune handed the #7 Toyota third place overall.

The fifth and final car in a depleted LMP1 class, the #4 ByKolles ENSO CLM P1/01, retired on Saturday night after a crash for Bruno Spengler in the Esses when his rear wing failed, which curtailed another problematic run for the privateer outfit that was also hit with an alternator problem.

The 24-car LMP2 battle was a much more tightly contested affair for most of the race, in which the two-car United Autosports team proved the class of the field.

The #22 ORECA of Paul di Resta, Filipe Albuquerque and Phil Hanson, which had started the race from pole, took control when the #32 sister car of Alex Brundle, Job van Uitert and Will Owen hit trouble with an oil leak on Sunday morning.

That released the #38 Jota ORECA of Antonio Felix da Costa, Anthony Davidson and Roberto Gonzalez into second place. The #38 crew, which had to make an extra pitstop at night for driver discomfort, hovered around 1m30s behind the leading #22 car for much of the morning.

The battle for the class win came to life again in the final laps, when it became apparent that Hanson would need to make an additional stop for fuel. Hanson came out just six seconds ahead of Davidson, but was relieved when Davidson also dove into the pits for a splash with two laps to go.

Hanson brought home the #22 car of the Anglo-American team to the finish some 40 seconds ahead of Jota's Davidson.

The #26 G-Drive Aurus-badged ORECA of Roman Rusinov, Jean-Eric Vergne and Mikkel Jensen, which was hit by electrical problems overnight, was on its way to third until Vergne had to box with suspension damage in the final hour, dropping down to fifth.

G-Drive's delay promoted the #31 Panis Racing ORECA of Matthieu Vaxiviere, Julien Canal and Nicolas Jamin to third. There was more late drama in LMP2 when James Allen suffered a hard crash at Porsche Curves in the #39 Graff, which elevated the #36 Signatech Alpine to fourth despite its early water leak.

There was a highly commendable sixth place in class for the #28 IDEC Sport ORECA, a crew which faced an uphill battle to rebuild the car after a practice crash, lacked track time and was forced to start from the pitlane. Its #17 sister car faced a similar fate and also finished the race.

The eight-car GTE Pro battle turned into a two-horse race between the #51 AF Corse Ferrari of James Calado, Alessandro Pier Guidi and Daniel Serra and the #97 Aston Martin of Alex Lynn, Maxime Martin and Ford refugee Harry Tincknell.

The #97 Aston had a leg up on the Ferrari throughout the morning, a triumphant Lynn crossing the line some 1m40s ahead of his Ferrari rival Calado to gift Aston Martin its first Le Mans GTE Pro win since 2017.

The sister cars of Aston Martin and Ferrari were initially in the hunt as well, but in the #71 AF Corse Ferrari Sam Bird suffered a puncture on Sunday morning, which wreaked havoc on the right-rear corner of the 488 GTE and cost it three laps. The second #95 Aston also gradually lost time, which started on Saturday night when it was delayed under safety car conditions.

The car driven by Marco Sorensen, Nicki Thiim and Richard Westbrook bagged third. The Bird, Molina and Rigon machine was on its way to fourth until it dramatically suffered a broken gearbox on the final lap. The #82 Risi Ferrari finished a distant fourth, as the #71 Ferrari was not classified.

Both factory Porsche entries endured a disastrous 24 hours. Gianmaria Bruni started on pole in the #91 Porsche 911 RSR-19, which made its Le Mans debut, but immediately dropped down the order with an undiagnosed acceleration problem, which also plagued the sister #92 car throughout the race.

The latter also spent a lot of time in the garage with a power steering issue. The #91 car finished fifth ahead of the #92 entry. The #63 Weathertech Racing car retired after Toni Vilander clashed with Nyck de Vries in the #29 Racing Team Nederland ORECA LMP2.

In GTE Am the #90 TF Sport Aston Martin of Jonathan Adam, Charlie Eastwood and Salih Yoluc romped home to a comfortable win to make it a clean sweep in GTE for Aston Martin, after suspension issues for the frontrunning #98 Aston Martin.

A late safety car bunched up the three cars squabbling over the remaining GTE Am podium positions. In the #56 Team Project 1 Porsche Matteo Cairoli tried to hold off the #77 Dempsey Proton Porsche of Matt Campbell and the #83 AF Corse Ferrari of Nicklas Nielsen, but lost out in the second Mulsanne chicane and Mulsanne corner.

Cairoli tried to retaliate in the Ford chicane, but made contact with Nielsen and remained in fourth.

Campbell finished second for Dempsey Proton Porsche ahead of Nielsen's AF Corse Ferrari.

2020 Le Mans 24 Hours results

Pos Class Car Drivers Laps Gap
1 LMP1 #8 Toyota Buemi, Nakajima, Hartley 387
2 LMP1 #1 Rebellion Senna, Nato, Menezes 382 + 5 Laps
3 LMP1 #7 Toyota Conway, Kobayashi, Lopez 381 + 6 Laps
4 LMP1 #3 Rebellion Dumas, Berthon, Deletraz 381 + 39.408s
5 LMP2 #22 Oreca Hanson, Albuquerque, Di Resta 370 + 17 Laps
6 LMP2 #38 Oreca Davidson, Da Costa, Gonzalez 370 + 32.831s
7 LMP2 #31 Oreca Jamin, Canal, Vaxiviere 368 + 19 Laps
8 LMP2 #36 Alpine Negrao, Ragues, Laurent 367 + 20 Laps
9 LMP2 #26 Aurus Rusinov, Vergne, Jensen 367 + 57.578s
10 LMP2 #28 Oreca Lafargue, Chatin, Bradley 366 + 21 Laps
11 LMP2 #42 Oreca Lapierre, Borga, Coigny 365 + 22 Laps
12 LMP2 #25 Oreca Falb, Trummer, McMurry 365 + 1m31.640s
13 LMP2 #50 Oreca Calderon, Florsch, Visser 364 + 23 Laps
14 LMP2 #47 Dallara Lacorte, Belicchi, Sernagiotto 363 + 24 Laps
15 LMP2 #17 Oreca Pilet, Tilley, Kennard 363 + 51.762s
16 LMP2 #27 Oreca Hedman, Hanley, Van der Zande 361 + 26 Laps
17 LMP2 #32 Oreca Owen, Brundle, Van Uitert 359 + 28 Laps
18 LMP2 #35 Ligier Yamanaka, Foster, Merhi 351 + 36 Laps
19 LMP2 #29 Oreca Van Eerd, Van der Garde, De Vries 349 + 38 Laps
20 GTE Pro #97 Aston Martin, Lynn, Tincknell 346 + 41 Laps
21 GTE Pro #51 Ferrari Pier Guidi, Calado, Serra 346 + 1m33.164s
22 GTE Pro #95 Aston Thiim, Sorensen, Westbrook 343 + 44 Laps
23 GTE Pro #82 Ferrari Pla, Bourdais, Gounon 339 + 48 Laps
24 GTE Am #90 Aston Yoluc, Eastwood, Adam 339 + 1m33.407s
25 GTE Am #77 Porsche Ried, Pera, Campbell 339 + 2m23.159s
26 GTE Am #83 Ferrari Perrodo, Collard, Nielsen 339 + 2m26.206s
27 GTE Am #56 Porsche Perfetti, Ten Voorde, Cairoli 339 + 2m34.526s
28 LMP2 #24 Oreca Grist, Kapadia, Wells 338 + 49 Laps
29 GTE Am #86 Porsche Wainwright, Barker, Watson 337 + 50 Laps
30 GTE Am #66 Ferrari Heistand, Root, Magnussen 335 + 52 Laps
31 GTE Pro #91 Porsche Bruni, Lietz, Makowiecki 335 + 6.187s
32 GTE Am #61 Ferrari Piovanetti, Negri Jr., Ledogar 335 + 2m49.871s
33 GTE Am #98 Aston Dalla Lana, Gunn, Farfus 333 + 54 Laps
34 GTE Am #85 Ferrari Gostner, Frey, Gatting 332 + 55 Laps
35 GTE Pro #92 Porsche Christensen, Estre, Vanthoor 331 + 56 Laps
36 GTE Am #99 Porsche Inthraphuvasak, Legeret, Andlauer 331 + 1m23.705s
37 GTE Am #60 Ferrari Schiavoni, Pianezzola, Ruberti 331 + 2m58.825s
38 GTE Am #78 Porsche Felbermayr, Beretta, Van Splunteren 330 + 57 Laps
39 GTE Am #54 Ferrari Flohr, Castellacci, Fisichella 330 + 1m11.360s
40 GTE Am #57 Porsche Keating, Fraga, Bleekemolen 326 + 61 Laps
41 LMP2 #34 Ligier Smiechowski, Binder, Isaakyan 325 + 62 Laps
42 GTE Am #62 Ferrari Grimes, Mowlem, Hollings 325 + 24.638s
43 GTE Am #89 Porsche Brooks, Piguet, Laskaratos 313 + 74 Laps
44 LMP2 #39 Oreca Allen, Capillaire, Milesi 357 + 30 Laps
45 GTE Pro #71 Ferrari Rigon, Molina, Bird 340 + 47 Laps
46 GTE Am #72 Ferrari Chen, Blomqvist, Gomes 273 + 114 Laps
47 GTE Am #88 Porsche Preining, Bastien, De Leener 238 + 149 Laps
48 GTE Am #75 Ferrari Mastronardi, Cressoni, Piccini 211 + 176 Laps
49 LMP2 #37 Oreca Tung, Aubry, Stevens 141 + 246 Laps
50 LMP2 #21 Oreca Montoya, Buret, Rojas 192 + 195 Laps
51 GTE Pro #63 Ferrari Macneil, Vilander, Segal 185 + 202 Laps
52 GTE Am #70 Ferrari Kimura, Abril, Cozzolino 172 + 215 Laps
53 LMP2 #16 Aurus Cullen, Jarvis, Tandy 105 + 282 Laps
54 LMP2 #30 Oreca Hirschi, Tereschenko, Gommendy 100 + 287 Laps
55 LMP1 #4 ENSO Dillmann, Spengler, Webb 97 + 290 Laps
56 LMP2 #33 Oreca Yamashita, Patterson, Fjordbach 88 + 299 Laps
57 GTE Am #52 Ferrari Ulrich, Gorig, West 80 + 307 Laps
58 GTE Am #55 Ferrari Cameron, Scott, Griffin 78 + 309 Laps
59 LMP2 #11 Ligier Tambay, Maris, D'Ansembourg 26 + 361 Laps
Top 10 most heartbreaking retirements at the Le Mans 24 Hours
Previous article

Top 10 most heartbreaking retirements at the Le Mans 24 Hours

Next article

Autosport 70: The inside story of the greatest Le Mans finish

Autosport 70: The inside story of the greatest Le Mans finish
Load comments
The unanswered questions that define WEC 2021's controversial ending Plus

The unanswered questions that define WEC 2021's controversial ending

OPINION: The deeply unsatisfying ending to a brilliant World Endurance Championship GTE Pro battle in Bahrain had Ferrari provisionally heading back from the desert as the victor. But Porsche plans to appeal the outcome, which rests on a number of confusing elements that have yet to be satisfactorily explained

Nov 9, 2021
How the WEC's heavyweight duel reached its controversial flashpoint Plus

How the WEC's heavyweight duel reached its controversial flashpoint

The Ferrari versus Porsche fight for the World Endurance Championship's GTE Pro title had been a finely-poised affair, right up until Alessandro Pier Guidi's punt on Michael Christensen in the closing stages of the Bahrain 8 Hours handed Ferrari a provisional title, pending Porsche's appeal. Here's how the controversy played out

Nov 8, 2021
The remarkable fixes Toyota used to avert another Le Mans disaster Plus

The remarkable fixes Toyota used to avert another Le Mans disaster

The 1-2 finish achieved by Toyota at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours was a result that will have surprised few, given its status as pre-event favourite. But the result was anything but straightforward, as worsening fuel pressure concerns required the team's drivers and engineers to pursue "creative fixes" on the fly. Here is the full story of how it reached the end without a lengthy pit visit

Le Mans
Nov 3, 2021
How the #7 Toyota squad moved closer to clinching WEC's 2021 title Plus

How the #7 Toyota squad moved closer to clinching WEC's 2021 title

In the penultimate round of the 2021 World Endurance Championship, a better run of tyre wear for Mike Conway, Jose Maria Lopez and Kamui Kobayashi brought the Toyota trio its third win from five events, as the #7 squad put one hand on the title. Here's how the first of the WEC's two Bahrain enduros played out

Nov 1, 2021
The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert Plus

The 10 greatest drives of lost legend Jo Siffert

It's 50 years since Jo Siffert was killed in his prime at Brands Hatch. The Swiss scored just two world championship wins in a Formula 1 career spent largely with privateer teams, but showed on numerous occasions in single-seaters and in sportscars with Porsche that he could beat any of the best drivers of his era given the right equipment

Formula 1
Oct 24, 2021
Inside the Le Mans finish too barmy for Hollywood Plus

Inside the Le Mans finish too barmy for Hollywood

Team WRT has been at the forefront of GT racing for years and made a successful move to prototypes for 2021, capped by an LMP2 win on its Le Mans debut. It could've been even better had the race been one lap shorter, when its cars ran 1-2, but the stranger-than-fiction reality has spurred the team to reach greater heights

Le Mans
Oct 16, 2021
The standout memories of Le Mans 2021 Plus

The standout memories of Le Mans 2021

OPINION: With four of the five Hypercar entries unproven in a 24-hour race, it would not have been unexpected for at least one of them to suffer serious reliability trouble. That they all managed to make it through the race relatively unscathed, says GARY WATKINS, was something of a surprise.

Le Mans
Aug 24, 2021
Why Toyota's Le Mans victory was not as simple as it looked Plus

Why Toyota's Le Mans victory was not as simple as it looked

Toyota scored its fourth Le Mans 24 Hours victory and a 1-2, with the #7 car of Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway and Jose Maria Lopez beating the #8. But although it looked straightforward from the outside, Toyota faced serious problem that had to be solved with some quick-thinking and ingenuity

Le Mans
Aug 24, 2021