Fernando Alonso wins on debut in 24 Hours Le Mans race

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Nakajima, who set the fastest lap time during qualifying and put the team in pole position, was in the driver's seat at the moment his Toyota crossed that finish line.

Fernando Alonso has taken a huge step in his pursuit of the motorsport Triple Crown after victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race.

Toyota, who competed with a hybrid auto in the top LMP1 class, proved too strong for their rivals running non-hybrids and completed a one-two when their number seven vehicle - shared by Briton Mike Conway, Japanese Kamui Kobayashi and Argentinian Jose Maria Lopez - finished second. Having now achieved championships in Formula 1 and Le Mans, only the Indy 500 remains.

Alonso, who is also a double Monaco Grand Prix victor, has made a big play about becoming only the second driver to take the "Triple Crown of Motorsport" and Le Mans is the second box to be ticked. Both cars ran reliably, with Alonso and his crew running second for much of the opening stint before the Spaniard delivered a stunning spell overnight to reduce the deficit, before Nakajima passed Kobayashi to seize a lead they would never relinquish.

The presence of a sporting icon at Le Mans guaranteed the race, Toyota and the WEC far greater global attention than had it been six lesser-known drivers competing in what was effectively a private Toyota battle.

Toyota had to overcome a 60-second penalty earned by Buemi for speeding in a slow zone to triumph at the 19th attempt.

The number 7 vehicle was always out of reach.

It was the No. 8 vehicle of Fernando Alonso, Kazuki Nakajima, and Sébastien Buemi that took the checkered flag.

Fernando Alonso has always been regarded as one of the all-time great racing drivers and the best along with Lewis Hamilton in the current era of F1, but he has found success hard to come by in grands prix in recent years.

Jenson Button, the 2009 F1 world champion, was competing in the non-hybrid LMP1 class for the Russian SMP team. However, as time has shown, having the fastest vehicle is no guarantee of success.

It was Toyota's first victory at the 20th attempt, and the first win for a Japanese manufacturer since Mazda's success in 1991.

A Toyota victory had been widely predicted after last year's champions Porsche withdrew from the 2018 edition.

There has been speculation that a Le Mans win could hasten the 36-year-old's departure from Formula One, with McLaren still a long way off the podium. In 2016, Nakajima himself was in the lead Toyota about to cross the finish line, but with five minutes to go in the race a small hardware failure brought the auto to a dead stop in the final lap.