Le Mans: Team Toyota celebrates victory for the third time

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The 88th Le Mans Marathon has once again confirmed the special character of both this legendary race and this track, which has seen many different dramas over the years.

However, the fact that Toyota won again at Le Mans did not come as a surprise, and Kazuki Nakajima was the first to cross the finish line. As in the previous two years, no one could catch up in speed with the hybrid sports prototypes of the Japanese team. But this does not mean that the race ended without surprises.

For more than 23 hours, it seemed that the race was developing surprisingly calmly, there were no special incidents, even the rain did not come, although the French meteorologists predicted it throughout the day.

But closer to the finish line it began: Louis Deletraz did not keep the Rebellion # 3 on the track at the Indianapolice turn, and although he managed to avoid major troubles, there was still contact with the bump stop. He got to the boxes, the mechanics immediately rolled the car into the garage, which meant that they had to give up hopes for the podium.

Before the accident, this crew rode in the top three in the overall standings, but in the end the Swiss driver of the Swiss team saw the checkered flag only fourth.

But the second race was completed by another Rebellion car, which was driven by Norman Nato in the last segment of the race. But this crew (NATO-Menezes-Senna) lost five laps to the leaders, which once again confirms Toyota’s speed advantage.

José Maria Lopez, the racer of the second crew of the Japanese team, finished third, although at some point in the last hour of the marathon he almost lost control of the sport prototype No. 7, the car galloped along the curbs, crossed the gravel trap, but returned to the track.

After that, a car of the Russian G-Drive team stopped in the relegation zone, and Jean-Eric Vergne reported on the radio in an annoyed voice about a suspension breakdown. He drove slowly to the boxes, and the mechanics rushed to fix the problem. With less than half an hour left before the finish, Vergne was able to return to the track, but, of course, the right opportunity to take at least third place in the LMP2 class was missed. It all ended with the crew of Roman Rusinov being classified fifth in its category and ninth in the absolute.

Then the car of the French team SO24-HAS was seriously damaged by Briton James Allen (full namesake of the famous racing journalist), and this crew was driving 5th in the LMP2 category. A safety car drove onto the track.

When the race resumed, literally 15 minutes before the finish line, the United Autosport team on the radio asked Philip Hanson to enter the pits for refueling – this crew was leading in the LMP2 class, but now their victory was in question.

But the Jota team had a chance to achieve success, whose car was piloted by Anthony Davidson, now not only a famous racer, but also an expert of the British TV channel Sky Sports.

The mechanics of Zach Brown’s team did an excellent job, and Hanson returned to the track ahead of Davidson, but the interval between cars was noticeably reduced. Hanson had already seen the Jota sport prototype quite clearly in the rearview mirrors, although it helped that Anthony had to fight his way through heavy traffic.

But then it turned out that Davidson also needed to visit the boxes, otherwise there would simply not be enough fuel until the finish line. Everyone at United Autosports was seen to be in a slightly better mood. And literally in some minutes, the tense atmosphere in the garage gave way to sincere joy, because the team won its first victory in Le Mans!

Anthony Davidson and Jota were forced to settle for second place, although this is also a good achievement.

The female crew of the Richard Mille Racing Team consisting of Tatiana Calderon, Sofia Flörsch and Beitske Visser took 9th place in the class and 13th in the absolute, which is certainly worthy of respect.

In both GTE classes, Aston Martin crews won, which can be considered a kind of benchmark for the Formula 1 team, which this season is called Racing Point, but next season will become Aston Martin and acquire factory status.

The next Le Mans marathon is a thing of the past, and let’s hope it was the only time in history that the legendary race was held without spectators.

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