Toyota dominates again to win 5th straight 24 Hours Le Mans

LE MANS, France (AP) — Toyota won the 24 Hours Le Mans in the classic endurance race for the fifth straight time, with the No. 8 car finishing ahead of the No. 7 in another dominant performance on Sunday.

New Zealander Brendan Hartley had clinched pole position and was at the wheel as Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 completed the race in sunny and warm conditions, with teammates Sebastien Buemi and Ryo Hirakawa watching from the team garage.

Swiss driver Buemi has won the race four times while Hartley clinched his third win, and second for Toyota after his first victory with Porsche in 2017. Both had modest Formula One careers.

Dane Tom Kristensen holds the records with nine wins.

Hirakawa secured his first victory to join Japanese countrymen Kazuki Nakajima (3 wins) and Kamui Kobayashi (1) as winners in the famed race, which was first held in 1923.

Jose Maria Lopez of Argentina followed a couple of minutes behind for Toyota’s No. 7 at the Circuit de la Sarthe in northwestern France.

Lopez was joined by Kobayashi and British driver Mike Conway, his teammates when No. 7 won last year to underline how Toyota has broken the stranglehold of Audi and Porsche.

After a calm night, Toyota experienced a rare blip when the No. 8 punctured with Buemi at the wheel at around 7:30 a.m. and 15 minutes later Lopez stalled and needed an electrical reset, costing one lap.

Ryan Briscoe closed out the race as the Glickenhaus 007 car finished in third place, five laps behind the winners.

American Josh Pierson became the youngest driver to participate at 16 years old, 188 days — making him slightly younger than fellow 16-year-old Matt McMurry was in 2014.

Pierson drove 97 laps as he shared duties on the United Autosports USA team driving an Oreca 07 with Oliver Jarvis and Alex Lynn, finishing sixth in the LM P2 category.

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