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Ferrari Triumphs Again at 24 Hours of Le Mans in Dramatic Finish

Le Mans, June 16, 2024, The Europe Today: Ferrari secured a thrilling victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the second consecutive year, overcoming a fierce challenge from Toyota in the 92nd edition of the iconic endurance race.

Denmark’s Nicklas Nielsen crossed the finish line in the number 50 499P hypercar, co-driven by Italian Antonio Fuoco and Spaniard Miguel Molina, after completing 311 laps of the Sarthe circuit. The final laps were tense as the car’s fuel gauge showed a critical 2% remaining, and the track conditions were wet.

The number 7 Toyota GR010 hybrid, driven by Argentine Jose Maria Lopez, Japan’s Kamui Kobayashi, and Dutch driver Nyck de Vries, finished just 14.221 seconds behind Ferrari. Lopez, a late replacement for Briton Mike Conway following a cycling accident, helped the team recover from a 23rd starting position to a strong second place.

Ferrari’s triumph was a repeat of their comeback win from last year, which marked the Italian marque’s first overall victory at Le Mans in 58 years. Last year’s winning team, consisting of Italians Alessandro Pier Guidi, Antonio Giovinazzi, and Britain’s James Calado, secured third place in the number 51 car amidst drizzle and overcast skies.

Nielsen expressed relief and excitement after the race, saying, “The worst for me was when they asked me to go slower because that’s usually where the mistakes happen. The last lap was so long. They kept me updated on the gap basically all the stint so it was just about managing the gap to the car in P2 (second), but then it obviously was a very long stint… but we did it.”

The victory was especially sweet for the number 50 car’s crew, who were first-time overall winners. The race was marked by a lengthy safety car period of over four hours during the night, adding to the challenge.

Antonio Fuoco, who took pole position last year but finished fifth, expressed his joy: “We were waiting for this moment since one year. At the end we won it and we are just super-happy.”

The race’s outcome was uncertain until the end, particularly after the Ferrari’s right-side door flapped open with more than an hour remaining, necessitating a pit stop. This incident, however, allowed Ferrari to adopt a different fuel strategy, which ultimately played to their advantage.

Toyota’s efforts were hampered by Lopez spinning at the Dunlop Curve, which cost them valuable time. With 30 minutes left and a 30-second gap to the leader, Toyota conceded defeat, instructing Lopez to secure the second-place finish.

From the start, Ferrari appeared strong, with their two factory cars and the number 83 AF Corse customer team entry, driven by Poland’s Robert Kubica, Israel’s Robert Shwartzman, and China’s Yifei Ye, all showing promising performance.

The Ferrari team’s ability to manage the challenging conditions and execute strategic decisions effectively was key to their victory, underscoring their dominance in this year’s race and solidifying their legacy at Le Mans.