TOYOTA GAZOO Racing romps to fifth successive Le Mans victory

The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WEC team, partnered by Acronis, romped to an incredible fifth successive 24 Hours of Le Mans victory at La Sarthe.

But whilst it was Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López who triumphed in 2021, it was Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and debutant Ryo Hirakawa who drove a near flawless race in their #8 GR010 HYBRID to grab this year’s ultimate prize.

The foundations for the race win were laid in qualifying, Hartley leaving it late to secure the team its sixth consecutive Le Mans pole. And only hours into the race, there was really only one team in it, the #8 car taking the chequered flag just 2mins and 1.222secs ahead of their close friends and team rivals.

It meant a fourth 1-2 finish for the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing outfit and also a fourth LMP1 win for Buemi and third for Hartley, who becomes New Zealand’s most successful Le Mans driver.

“It’s a great achievement to get a one-two at Le Mans for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing,” commented Hartley in his team’s post race press release. “It was a great feeling to be behind the wheel for qualifying and to get pole position, and it was even more special to take the race finish. It’s the first time I’ve been able to do that and I was overwhelmed with emotions when I crossed the line.

“During the whole race you are trying not to think about the finish because we have seen what can happen in the last laps, particularly with TOYOTA. So when you cross the line, all the emotions come out and it’s a great feeling. I am so happy for Ryo, who has integrated really well.

“We love him and he is a strong part of the team already. We also have a great relationship with the car #7 crew and it was fun to battle so hard with them for most of the race. We were flat-out for so long but after car #7 had their problem we backed off and took minimal risk.”

It may well have been a very different result had, on lap 256, José not had to limp the race-leading #7 car to the pits with a front motor issue, a system reset meaning they emerged a lap behind new leader Hartley. And despite a valiant comeback, it ultimately proved just too big a deficit to overcome by the chequered flag.

“It hurts to miss the Le Mans win,” commented a gracious López afterward. “We are all competitive people and we want to win, but we also have to know how to take defeat and be happy for the team, particularly with this one-two result for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing. Congratulations to car #8; they did a great job. We did an almost perfect race and this explains the big gap to our Hypercar competitors, who all had some trouble.

“We managed everything to perfection. We showed we had the speed in the car and the will to win so to face an issue is tough. But thanks to the team for getting the car going again and allowing us to keep fighting. It’s good to be part of a one-two for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing at Le Mans.”

For Buemi, a fourth victory at one of the most iconic races on the motorsport calendar, and indeed the history of four-wheel racing, means that he can now justifiably rank amongst the greats of the sport.

“It’s hard for me to express myself after that race because it’s just an amazing feeling, especially to be in the centre of the podium with Ryo and Brendon,” commented Buemi. “It is fantastic that we were able to win together with Ryo in his first Le Mans as part of the #8 car. He has done such a great job and I’d like to congratulate him for his performance. The whole team, and our crew, executed a perfect race without any mistakes and no damage to the car.

“It’s an incredible feeling to win Le Mans for the fourth time, and the fifth time for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing. It will take a little bit of time before it sinks in because it’s hard to realise what we achieved today.”

And the final word must go to first time Le Mans winner Ryo Hirakawa, who joins compatriot and team principal Kamui Kobayashi and Vice Chairman of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Europe as a Le Mans winner.

“It’s an honour to join the list of legends who have won Le Mans,” added Hirakawa. “To be honest, I still cannot believe my dream has come true today. It was such a close race for so long and we had such a great fight with car #7. Thank you to Sébastien and Brendon who have helped me a lot since I joined the team; it is an honour to drive in the same car as them.

“It is fantastic to have a one-two in my first Le Mans for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing and this is thanks to the hard work of the whole team. We had a perfect strategy, great pit stops and a race without any problems; I don’t think we could do more.”

The result earned double points for the #8 team at the series’ showpiece event, and excitingly leaves the 2022 FIA World Endurance Championship battle delicately poised – the #8 crew just three points off the leading Alpine trio, and the #7 team 20 behind as focus now turns to the 6 Hours of Monza on 10 July.

World Endurance Championship.
Le Mans 24 Hours Race
Le Mans Circuit, France
6th to 12th June 2022

Acronis are proud to be the official Artificial Intelligence Partner of the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing team, helping the team perform to the best of their capabilities through machine learning. To find out more, please visit


Fraser Masefield

Sports news and features writer, web editor and author.