Toyota has won the Le Mans 24 Hours for the second year running, with its pair of TS050 hybrids completing an arguably inevitable one-two in the 2019 race.
Though not one without drama. As the final hour of the race approached, the number 7 car of Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, and Jose Maria Lopez seemed set for victory, sitting a comfortable lap ahead of the number 8 car of Fernando Alonso, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima.
Which would have stopped ‘Nando waving goodbye to his stint as Toyota sports car racer with a win. Enter a puncture and subsequently cocked-up tire change for number 7, putting the Nakajima-driven number 8 into the lead and first to the chequered flag, finishing almost 17 seconds ahead of its sister car.
A genuine error? The conspiracy theories are showering as wildly as the champagne, given how much bigger the headlines end up being for an Alonso win. Yikes.
Rounding off the podium were yet more former F1 drivers with Stoffel Vandoorne and Vitaly Petrov racing in the third-placed SMP Racing prototype alongside Mikhall Aleshin.
Elsewhere, the Signatech Alpine Matmut team won the LMP2 class and AF Corse Ferrari the GTE Pro class, after pole-sitters Aston Martin saw the boost on its Vantages strangled thanks to the controversial Balance of Performance regulations that try to create tighter racing, sometimes at the apparent expense of common sense. A bittersweet weekend for Aston, then, after it announced on the eve of this year’s race its Valkyrie will race for outright Le Mans victory in 2021.
Note: This article first appeared on TopGear.com. Minor edits have been made.