LE MANS, France — It was hard not to feel for Toyota Gazoo Racing and the No. 5 team of Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima Sunday morning as the 84th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans came to its stunning conclusion.
Nakajima was wheeling the car and appeared to have victory in his — and the team’s — sights heading down the frontstretch to start the final lap, when suddenly the car lost power after the team and its sister car (the No. 6 of Mike Conway, Stephane Sarrazin and Kamui Kobayashi) had utterly dominated the proceedings and led the majority of the first 23 hours and 59 minutes.
As the car limped helplessly in an attempt to somehow make it home, the team could only watch as the polesitting No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid of Romain Dumas, Marc Lieb and Neel Jani sped by in a last-lap pass, taking Porsche’s 18th overall victory at Le Mans and keeping the Japanese marque from replicating the feat accomplished last by Mazda in 1991 — the last time a Japanese car manufacturer won the event.
To add insult to injury, the car was not classified as a finisher in the end because its final lap of 11+ minutes around the mammoth, 8.47 mile Circuit de la Sarthe was far slower than the minimum requirement of six minutes, demoting it from second and crushing the hearts of the Toyota faithful.
But even still, in light of their stunning victory, Porsche still took the time to give a well-earned nod on social media to the team that all but had them beaten after a thrilling three-way battle for the better part of the entire 24 hours.
— Porsche (@Porsche) June 19, 2016
The gesture was such that it received response from both Toyota’s European and South African arms, as well as a myriad of fans, along the way.
— Toyota Europe (@toyota_europe) June 19, 2016
— Toyota 86 (@Toyota86SA) June 19, 2016
— Casey Lloyd (@CaseyLloyd33) June 19, 2016
@Porsche Great recognition to Toyota, they deserved all we Porsche fans respect for such a good job. To win a 24 hour also needs luck.
— Chris Mason (@masoncl) June 20, 2016
And in one moment on social media, Porsche reminded the world that motorsport is not always about trophies and glory — but the honor that comes with a fair fight and a truly worthy opponent as well.
The opinions expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of Race Chaser Online, Speed77 Radio, the Performance Motorsports Network, their sponsors or other contributors.
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 22-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
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