Fernando Alonso took victory on his debut at the 24 Hours of Le Mans for Toyota Gazoo Racing alongside teammates Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi.
The two Toyota cars pulled away from the rest of the field heading into the night, but the #8 car fell behind the sister car when Buemi was handed a stop and go penalty for speeding through a slow zone.
Alonso came into the car for his second stint in the dark and closed the gap to the #7, but his progress was hindered by slow zones and safety cars. Nakajima took over in the morning and managed to put the #8 ahead inside the final nine hours, overtaking Kamui Kobayashi.
The #8 car began to pull away from its teammates, who fell further behind when Kobayashi missed the pit entry and suffered a fuel problem with just over 90 minutes remaining, giving the other Toyota car a one-lap advantage.
The gap was enough for Nakajima to retain the lead until the end of the race, with Kobayashi bringing the #7 across the line in second, while Rebellion Racing secured the final spot on the LMP1 podium.
Jenson Button’s Le Mans debut didn’t go to plan as the 2009 F1 world champion’s car suffered a sensor failure near the start of the race resulting in a lengthy stay in the pits. SMP Racing were able to get the car back out, but they rejoined at the back of the field and used the race as a test session. They car didn’t make it to the end of the race though, as smoke started coming from the back of the #11 with Button at the wheel inside the final hour, forcing him to pull to the side of the track.
Former Force India driver and Sky Sports F1 commentator Paul di Resta ended his race in dramatic fashion with a high speed crash into a concrete barrier. The Scot lost control of the United Autosports Ligier while challenging for a podium in the LMP2 class, resulting in a safety car.
Former Toro Rosso driver Jean-Eric Vergne took the win in LMP2 with Roman Rusinov and Andrea Pizzitola for G-Drive Racing, while Porsche’s Pink Pig car took a dominant win in the GT Pro class with Michael Christensen, Kevin Estre and Laurens Vanthoor.
The podium places in GT Pro were closely fought, with Sebastien Boudais and Frederic Makowiecki coming close to contact on several occasions as the #91 Porsche and #68 Chip Ganassi Ford battled for second, but it was Makowiecki who kept his car ahead. Porsche also took a win in the GT Am class through Dempsey Proton Racing.
Alonso becomes the second active driver to take a second leg of the Triple Crown of Motorsport, joining Juan Pablo Montoya. Montoya, who already has two Indy 500 wins and a Monaco Grand Prix victory, also made his Le Mans debut at this race, but his United Autosports car fell behind when the Colombian became beached in the gravel in his first stint in the car, although they recovered the finish in the top 10 overall. The Spaniard is also the third member of the current F1 grid to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans after Nico Hulkenberg and Brendon Hartley.