Toyota, the Japanese multinational automaker, has reportedly won its fourth straight Le Mans 24 Hour Race with its hybrid hypercars. After years of bad luck, the number seven GR010 car shared by drivers Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, and Jose Maria Lopez bagged the title for the Japanese manufacturer on Sunday.
According to reports, the second place also went to Toyota's second vehicle and winner of the last three years, driven by Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley, and Kazuki Nakajima.
Toyota's number seven-vehicle managed to escape the misfortune that had wrecked its prospects in 2017, 2019, and 2020 to finally grab the chequered flag at the climax of one of motorsport's mythic endurance challenges. The vehicle ran for 1,440 minutes, making 370 laps, traveling more than 5,000 kilometers, and taking 33 pit stops.
Nakajima stopped behind Kobayashi in the lead car soon before the finish, ensuring they crossed the line almost in tandem, despite the fact that they were separated by two laps in the classification.
Toyota’s rival, Alpine, helmed by Nicolas Lapierre, Andre Negrao, and Matthieu Vaxiviere finished third, four laps behind the leaders.
Meanwhile, two entries from US film director Jim Glickenhaus, who at 71 oversaw proceedings from the pits in a stetson, managed to complete the top five.
The grandstand and campsites were once again packed after last year's Le Mans was conducted behind closed doors due to coronavirus restrictions, which kept the regular audience of 250,000 at home.
With capacity limited to 20%, the 50,000 die-hard admirers burning the midnight oil were rewarded to another show of Toyota supremacy as the Hypercar era began at Le Mans.
Pierre Fillon, the director of the event, stated that the new elite category prototype has gained favor with Porsche, Ferrari, and Audi who are set to make their Hypercar debut in the upcoming two years, heralding a new "golden age" for Le Mans.
Prior to the reintroduction of those big marques, Toyota's two entrants faced competition in the premier class from an Alpine and two Glickenhaus Team cars.