If you stand on the top step of the podium at Le Mans even once, it’s considered brilliant. One could call it an achievement of the highest calibre at such an exhausting event.
You do that twice and you prove the first win isn’t a flash in the pan and that winning again takes courage and consistency over a prolonged period of time.
But in winning their third 24 Hours of Le Mans, Toyota Gazoo Racing secured a hat-trick at an honourable and hugely challenging event.
Formula 1 Drivers At Le Mans 2020
The men forming the glorious headlines being New Zealand’s Brendon Hartley, Swiss driver Sebastian Buemi, and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima.
And the car with the highest honours being Toyota #8 at the famous Circuit de la Sarthe. But while as a Toyota collective, it’s another comprehensive victory, individually speaking, the glorious outcome spelt different fortunes for all three drivers.
Second Win For Brendon Hartley
While it’s a second win for the Kiwi driver Brendon Hartley, it’s the third overall for his two teammates, Nakajima and Buemi.
The trio would, in winning, complete 387 laps full of determination and grit in the LMP1. Though, more than anything else, Buemi would be most delighted in having secured a third consecutive victory at the famous endurance run.
But in signalling a memorable day for the Kiwi driver, the General Manager for Toyota Gazoo Racing Andrew Davis highlighted the significance of the feat for the Palmerston North-born driver, “Brendon’s association with Toyota goes back to his early days of success as an open-wheeler rookie in the Toyota Racing Series. Last year he joined Toyota Gazoo Racing as a reserve driver in the WEC [World Endurance Championship] and earned himself a seat in the team when Fernando Alonso retired.
“At just 15 years old, Brendon won the first-ever TRS race in 2005. Fifteen years later at 30, Brendon is at the very peak of the motor-racing world with his second Le Mans win!”
Although, it mustn’t be forgotten that prior to sitting down for the 24 hour non stop endurance race, there were huge odds staring at the 30-year-old New Zealand driver: with Hartley replacing none other than Fernando Alonso, one of motorsport’s hugely respected names. One still in search of that grand Triple Crown.
Having said that, the other Toyota #7 belonging to Jose Maria Lopez finished third with a stellar move in the race’s final hour resulting in Lopez overtaking Louis Deletraz’s Rebellion Racing Entry albeit. Although, this was due to an unforeseeable delay down at the pits that saw the lapped car being stuck for an awfully long amount of time, thus benefitting the Toyota in Lopez’s hands.
However, things weren’t as dark or bleak for the other Rebellion Racing car with French driver Norman Nato crossing the line to come home in second- not at all a bad finish- right?
Late Drama At Le Mans 2020
But a key feature of the 2020 24 hours of Le Mans was the drama that filled the final 20 minutes of the treacherously challenging contest, the final few minutes being surprisingly dramatic with United Autosports calling Hanson into the pits for a quick dash. Resultantly, the car would drop behind Anthony Davidson’s Jota.
But finding almost next to no fuel left, Davidson would himself pit with less than ten minutes to go, meaning the Briton had to concede the lead.
Having said that, what ties the winning trio, it ought to be remembered, is a common racing past: Hartley, Nakajima, and Buemi have all raced previously in FORMULA 1, with the Japanese driver ending his F1 career way back in 2009 while Hartley was there until as recent as the 2018 season.