The 2019 Le Mans 24 Hours saw Toyota Gazoo Racing claim first and second places to clinch the 2018/2019 FIA World Endurance Championship title with Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima (Japan’s first ever FIA World Champion) and Fernando Alonso who steered the N°8 Toyota TS050-Hybrid to Michelin’s 22nd straight Le Mans victory on Sunday. The N°7 sister prototype of Conway/Kobayashi/Lopez was in front at the start of the final hour of the race when one of its tyres was damaged by debris picked up from the track, forcing Lopez to pit for a replacement set.
Toyota’s success is the fruit of a competitive package that placed the emphasis on performance, consistency and energy efficiency, to which Michelin contributed from the start to the end of the 24-hour race.
- Performance: Mike Conway (Toyota N°7) posted a new race lap record for the Circuit de la Sarthe with a time of 3m17.297s on Lap 4 to improve on the previous benchmark (3m17.475s) set by André Lotterer (Audi R18 e-tron Quattro) in 2015.
- Consistency: Toyota’s race plan was based on a strategy of quadruple stints of 11 laps each, which is equivalent to 600 kilometres on the same set of tyres. Fernando Alonso clocked his fastest race lap during one of his ‘fourth stints’ in the N°8 car.
- Energy efficiency: Toyota consumed 35-percent less fuel than it did in 2012, the year it first contested the FIA WEC.
The overall top three at Le Mans was rounded out by the N°11 SMP Racing-run BR Engineering BR1-AER of Vitaly Petrov, Mikhaïl Aleshin and Stoffel Vandoorne who produced a combative performance and a pace that was not all that far off that of the Japanese hybrid prototypes.