Toyota Gazoo Racing achieved a notable and theatrical fourth consecutive Le Mans 24 Hours victory to become the first Hypercar winners at the Circuit de la Sarthe. The No. 7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid Hypercar driven by Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez ended their streak of mechanical disasters at Le Mans to take their first victory at the legendary 24-hour race, which this year saw the return of a limited number of fans.
The No. 7’s win is only the second time ever that an Argentine (Jose Maria Lopez) has won Le Mans and is the team’s seventh consecutive WEC race victory. The Hypercar finished two laps ahead of the sister No. 8 car with Brendon Hartley, Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi sharing the wheel. (Hypercar Hype or Close Racing Next Week at Le Mans? Toyota vs Alpine vs Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus; C’est Bien – Corvette Racing off to Le Mans 24 Hour; WEC SPA – Toyota One-Two. 24 Hours of Le Mans Next)
A French team – Alpine Elf Matmut took the third podium spot, with the Alpine A480 Gibson driven by Andre Negrao, Nicolas Lapierre and Matthieu Vaxiviere finishing four laps behind the race-winning Toyota. WEC rookie Glickenhaus Racing claimed fourth and fifth overall in its pair of Glickenhaus 007 Hypercars – the No. 708 and No. 709 sister cars successfully keeping out of trouble to make it to the finish in a bid to realize owner Jim Glickenhaus’ stated childhood dream of competing at Le Mans.
The mid-engine Chevrolet Corvette C8.R finished second in class – GTE Pro – at its 24 Hours of Le Mans debut Sunday, beating Porsche. However, the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evo took a famous win as James Calado, Alessandro Pierguidi and Come Ledogar combined to complete a dominant victory after leading for vast majority of race. For Calado and Pierguidi it was a chance to celebrate a second victory in three years, while Ledogar took his first ever class win at Le Mans.
Corvette was faster in the cooler night-time weather, but the Ferrari came to the front in the morning as Calado was able to open a gap after several flawless stints. The triumph for AF Corse saw the Italian team celebrate its fourth LM GTE Pro win at Le Mans after successes in 2012, 2014 and 2019. Completing the GTE Pro podium and taking second placed FIA WEC points was the No.92 Porsche 911 RSR-19 crew of Kevin Estre, Michael Christensen and Neel Jani.
“I don’t know if I prefer to be two seconds, 10 seconds, 40 seconds or three laps back. I think it hurts the same,” said Antonio Garcia, NO. 63 Mobil 1/Siriusxm Chevrolet Corvette C8.R “There is nothing we could do. I think we ran a perfect race regardless of our position. We finished second but very close for sure. They [the other Corvette] just did it 40 seconds better than us. I’m very happy for the team, the 63 crew, Jordan and Nicky – all six drivers had really, really good drives and helped develop this Corvette and for sure all the engineers… For sure, two of our cars up front would have put even more pressure on the 51 Ferrari. We were both alone, so it was a one-on-one fight between Corvette and Ferrari. We were close. When you are up on the podium, you always want a tiny bit more. I would have liked to have given Corvette the first Le Mans win in the C8.R. Now we need to wait until next year and work harder.”
The highest drama in the race, arguably, was in the LMP2 category where Team WRT suffered a victory and a loss. The Belgian squad was on course for a 1-2 at their LMP2 debut as Louis Deletraz, Robert Kubica and Ye Yifei in No.41 were leading home sister No.31 car of Robin Frijns, Ferdinand Habsburg and Charles Milesi However, Yifei Ye stopped on the final lap leaving Frijns to take over the lead in the No.31 Oreca. Frijns was compelled to defend from the attacking No.28 JOTA car belonging to Stoffel Vandoorne, Tom Blomqvist and Sean Gelael directly behind. The two were separated by 0.7s as the checkered flag was waved with Blomqvist poised to swoop for the win but eventually settled for second.
In the LMGTE Am category AF Corse took its first class victory at Le Mans as the No.83 team of Francois Perrodo, Nicklas Nielsen and Alessio Rovera claimed a third WEC victory of the season. The trio took the lead on Saturday evening and maintained a race winning gap to the TF Sport Aston Martin. This means that Perrodo and Nielsen became Le Mans champions as well as reigning FIA WEC champions after completing impeccable stints throughout the day and night. They also stretched their 2021 FIA WEC points lead as they continue their attempt to go for back-to-back titles. Rovera took a debut win after competing almost exclusively in Italian GT racing over the last few seasons.
TF Sport – off pace from the outset, were ultimately hurt by a double tire failure which occurred late on Saturday evening. This caused Felipe Fraga to hit the tire wall at the first Mulsanne chicane. But the TF Sport pit crew team ensured only minimal time was lost in the actual pit-stop itself. Rounding out the podium was the No.80 Iron Lynx Ferrari 488 GTE Evo driven by Matteo Cressoni, Rino Mastronardi and Callum Ilott.
- Toyota Gazoo Racing #7 – 371 laps
- Toyota Gazoo Racing #8 + 2 laps
- Alpine Elf Matmut Endurance Team #36 + 4 laps
- Glickenhaus Racing #708 + 4 laps
- Glickenhaus Racing #709 + 7 laps
- Calado/Pier Guidi/Ledogar (GB/I/F), AF Corse, Ferrari 488 GTE #51, 345 laps
- Garcia/Taylor/Catsburg (E/USA/NL), Corvette Racing, Corvette C8.R #63, 345 laps
- Estre/Jani/Christensen (F/CH/DK), Porsche GT Team, Porsche 911 RSR #92, 344 laps
- Lietz/Bruni/Makowiecki (A/I/F), Porsche GT Team, Porsche 911 RSR #91, 343 laps
- Serra/Molina/Bird (BR/E/GB), AF Corse, Ferrari 488 GTE #52, 331 laps
- Milner/Tandy/Sims (USA/GB/GB), Corvette Racing, Corvette C8.R #64, 313 laps
- Martin/Parente/D. Vanthoor (B/P/B), HubAuto Racing, Porsche 911 RSR #72, 227 laps
- MacNeil/Bamber/L. Vanthoor (USA/NZ/B), WeatherTech, Porsche 911 RSR #79, 139 laps
- Perrodo/Nielsen/Rovera (F/DK/I), AF Corse, Ferrari 488 GTE #83, 340 laps
- Keating/Pereira/Fraga (USA/L/BR), TF Sport, Aston Martin Vantage #33, 339 laps
- Cressoni/Mastronardi/Illot (I/I/GB), Iron Lynx, Ferrari 488 GTE #80, 338 laps
- Ried/Campbell/Evans (D/AUS/NZ), Dempsey-Proton Racing, Porsche 911 RSR #77, 335 laps
- Haryanto/Picariello/Seefried (RI/B/D), Absolute Racing, Porsche 911 RSR #18, 332 laps
- Renauer/Ineichen/Bohn (D/CH/D), Herberth Motorsport, Porsche 911 RSR #69, 330 laps
- Andlauer/Bastien/Arnold (F/USA/D), Dempsey-Proton Racing, Porsche 911 RSR #88, 327 laps
- Wainwright/Barker/Gamble (GB/GB/GB), GR Racing, Porsche 911 RSR #86, 322 laps
- Olsen/Buchardt/Foley (N/N/USA), Team Project 1, Porsche 911 RSR #46, 138 laps
- Perfetti/Cairoli/Pera (N/I/I), Team Project 1, Porsche 911 RSR #56, 84 laps
- Inthraphuvasak/Latorre/Tincknell (T/F/GB), Proton Competition, Porsche 911 RSR #99, 66 l