Ferrari and Toyota reflect on a hard fought FIA WEC Le Mans 24 Hours win and podium – respectively – as the Italian manufacturer does a back-to-back.

Ferrari –

A year after winning the Centenary edition, Ferrari secured another victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2024, the world’s most famous and prestigious endurance race, achieving a feat destined to go down in motorsport history. The official Ferrari – AF Corse team’s 499P number 50 crossed the chequered flag first after 311 laps to the applause of the 329,000 spectators in attendance (a record for the 24 Hours of Le Mans). Nicklas Nielsen, who shared the cockpit with Miguel Molina and Antonio Fuoco, drove the car to the finish line.

While the 499P number 50 was the star of the 24 Hours, leading for 72 laps, the third position finish of the “sister” Le Mans Hypercar, the number 51 of Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado, and Antonio Giovinazzi – last year’s winners at the La Sarthe circuit – just 36 seconds behind their teammates, capped a memorable day for fans. This result was the fruit of impeccable teamwork that kept the Prancing Horse’s official 499Ps in contention for the lead throughout the race. The team optimised the performance of the Hypercars and diversified strategies, particularly in tyre choices, during a race marked by rain that resulted in almost seven hours of Safety Car periods, particularly overnight.

The race, which counts as the fourth round of the FIA WEC 2024, featured the AF Corse team’s 499P number 83, which made its World Endurance Championship debut this season. The Giallo Modena-liveried Hypercar, driven by official Maranello drivers Yifei Ye (who celebrated his 24th birthday today) and Robert Shwartzman, alongside Robert Kubica, was in the spotlight for a long time. It held first position for a total of 83 laps, but had to retire after 248 laps. With the 50 points for the victory, Ferrari is now second in the Manufacturers’ standings, nine points behind Porsche. Fuoco, Molina, and Nielsen are second in the Drivers’ standings (nine points off the leaders), while Pier Guidi, Calado, and Giovinazzi are sixth.

Nicklas Nielsen 499P #50: “Fantastic! It really is a dream come true. The victory seemed very difficult for part of the race, even at the end, when we had a problem with the door. But then everything went well. I’m speechless. I’m very proud of everyone. The last lap was very long, impossible to imagine. I worried about avoiding any risks and getting to the finish line as quickly as possible. I just had to manage the lead.”

Antonio Fuoco 499P #50: “We were perfect all weekend, so I think we deserve this victory. It’s been a long wait since last year, so we can enjoy it thoroughly. The result is even better because we finished on the podium with the #51. The atmosphere here is always incredible, starting on the test day when you meet the fans with Ferrari flags. These aspects also provide extra motivation to give your best. Even during the race, at night, with the rain, it was lovely to see a big turnout from the public along the track, in the stands. It’s incredible how much passion you can experience. No words can capture this moment.”

Miguel Molina 499P #50: “We worked hard to achieve this goal. We wanted this victory for a long time. We realised we had a chance to fight for victory, and we gave everything. I am delighted because it’s the best day of my sporting career!”

Alessandro Pier Guidi 499P #51: “Once again, the Ferrari was the best car at Le Mans. We’ve shown how extraordinary this car is every time we’ve come here. I want to congratulate my teammates: they did an extraordinary job. Our race was tough, but we got on the podium in the end, so having two Ferraris on the podium is fantastic. In the same way, it’s extraordinary to win two years in a row.”

James Calado 499P #51: “I’m extremely happy for Ferrari because they got another win at Le Mans for the second year in a row. It’s a fantastic result for the team. I’m very proud of the entire team and, obviously, of the #50 guys. They deserved this victory; they have been performing and focused throughout this week. From our point of view, it was a tough race. However, we are talking about a podium, which is still an excellent result. A first and a third place for Ferrari is not a bad way to end a day at Le Mans.”

Antonio Giovinazzi 499P #51: “The biggest congratulations must go to Ferrari for winning at Le Mans two years in a row. We are a fantastic team that deserves everything we get at the moment. It’s a shame for us in the 51 because we could have done better. But it’s great this way. We took yet another podium after last year. Getting on that podium here is always a great feeling, especially after a race as long and difficult as this one, with the rain and constantly changing weather. This result allows us to get back into the fight for the championship, which is the most important thing to consider right now. And now all eyes are on the next race.”

John Elkann, Ferrari President: “Our first and third place at Le Mans are a testament to how teamwork allows us to accomplish extraordinary results. I would therefore like to thank everyone who, during these extremely tough 24 hours, have shown courage and great tenacity. It gives me great pleasure that, with this year’s and last year’s result, all the Ferrari drivers have won at Le Mans – and with them all of Ferrari. Only a very cohesive and committed team could achieve this historic result.”

Antonello Coletta, Global Head of Endurance and Corse Clienti: “Returning to Le Mans and winning again, achieving the Prancing Horse’s eleventh overall victory in its history, is something extraordinary—the result of tremendous team effort that proves last year’s success was no fluke. Finally, in the fourth round of the 2024 season, where, until now, we hadn’t climbed the top step on the podium, we returned to victory in the most important race of the year—an achievement we are very proud of. I want to thank and congratulate the entire team, the drivers, and everyone who supports this project. Each one plays a vital role based on competence and passion.”

Ferdinando Cannizzo, Head of Endurance Race Cars: “Humility, passion, and determination were the foundation of this victory. We arrived at Le Mans knowing that we didn’t have the most competitive car, but aware that we could play to our strengths. Over the last few days, starting with the Test Day, we demonstrated the value of the entire team, analysing critical points and finding the best solutions for a good race. In recent months, although we didn’t use any waivers, we focused on our 499P, aiming to improve it in every way. Even in the most challenging moments of the race, we faced every problem with concentration. In the last phase, when it was time to attack, we decided to continue with the Medium tyres despite the risk of rain, capitalising on our 499P’s potential.”

Toyota –

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing fell narrowly short of an unforgettable Le Mans 24 Hours victory after an epic battle in changing conditions delivered a hard-earned podium in the 92nd edition of the legendary event, the fourth round of the 2024 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). The World Champions overcame adversity to fight for honours, recovering from a difficult qualifying to meet the challenge of an ultra-competitive 23-car Hypercar field in extreme weather thanks to driver skill, efficient pit stops, smart strategy and a strong team spirit.

José María López, Kamui Kobayashi and Nyck de Vries bravely challenged for victory in their #7 GR010 HYBRID heading into the closing stages but missed out on completing a remarkable comeback drive. They finished second by just 14.221secs after 311 dramatic laps, despite starting from 23rd. Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa led the race for large stages but were denied a chance at victory when their #8 GR010 HYBRID was pushed into a spin with two hours remaining. The reigning World Champions finished fifth after a gallant effort.

In front of over 300,000 fans, the two GR010 HYBRIDs started at the wrong end of the Hypercar grid but showed their fighting spirit by moving through the field despite the changing weather. Undeterred by rain showers in the second and sixth hours, the #8 car forced its way into the battle for podium positions with the #7 pushing for the top six early in the race. The complexion of the race changed midway through hour seven when a safety car brought the leading Hypercars together at the front.

The race was neutralised for more than an hour as night – and more rain – fell on La Sarthe. When it resumed, the drivers called on all their skills to conquer the conditions and guide the GR010 HYBRIDs to the front. The #8 led the race from the ninth to the 18th hour following Ryo’s strong performance in the rain, dropping down the order only as a result of differing pit stop strategies, while the #7 held third. That period included more than four hours of continuous safety car intervention due to heavy rain around half distance.

A close battle between Cadillac, Ferrari, Porsche and TOYOTA GAZOO Racing saw the momentum ebb and flow depending on traffic, slow zone timings and race incidents. After a 19th-hour safety car, the top seven were covered by just four seconds as the action intensified. Remarkably, the battle at the front got even more intense in the final stages. Flying laps from Brendon brought the #8 into the lead #50 Ferrari when more rain hit. That charge continued on wet tyres but the #8 car’s chances suffered a cruel blow with two hours to go when Brendon was pushed into a spin by the #51 Ferrari, dropping to sixth.

The team’s victory hopes therefore rested with the #7 and José, whose blistering pace had already recovered substantial time following two earlier punctures. He kept up the pressure and overtook the #51 Ferrari for second before moving into the lead inside the last two hours. But the #7 still needed a fuel stop and José started the last 30 minutes with a 40-second deficit. Initially he closed the gap, but with laps running out, the task proved insurmountable. José brought the #7 home in second behind the winning #50 Ferrari, and Sébastien took the flag moments later in fifth.

Akio Toyoda (Team Founder): “This year at Le Mans, things happened before the race even started and then long after the start. But I never once felt uneasy because it is Kamui’s team. I truly believed in the team that Kamui has built. Everyone on the team fought an extreme battle until the very end of the 24 hours. It was a great race, but the result was really frustrating! I told everyone before the race that we have the best mechanics, the best engineers, and the best drivers in the world, and I hope that we can turn their frustration into power and once again become a team that can be called the best in the world! So let’s turn this frustration into power, and let’s make this team what the rest of the world calls it again!”

P.S. “I’m glad Jose was there! Thank you! Keep up the good work with Lexus. Mike, I’m waiting for you to come back. I prefer you when you are on four wheels. And Kamui, let’s try to finish the qualifying session! Finally, to the mechanics of the #7 car, thank you very much for all your hard work during the race week. I want to thank you all for your strong efforts during the race week, which was full of long days. I love the #7 car, which is full of mischievous drivers. I know it’s a lot of work, but please continue to take good care of car #7. Now please take a good rest!”

P.P.S. “It was a really great 24-hour race between athletes. Congratulations to everyone at Ferrari! Thank you also to Porsche and Cadillac who really fought until the very end.”

Kamui Kobayashi (Team Principal and driver, car #7): “Obviously it was a very tough race for us. We could have won but we had a few issues. It was not a smooth 24 hours for the #7 car, but the whole team did such a great job throughout a very tough week. It was a phenomenal race through 24 hours, with every manufacturer fighting non-stop. Everyone wants to win this race and we were very close. Such a close finish makes us hungry to come back stronger next year and we will do our best to achieve that. Thank you for all the support and hard work from TOYOTA GAZOO Racing in Japan and Germany. Thank you once again to Morizo san as well. He has supported us a lot since we found out about Mike’s injury and all through the week. We fight together with Morizo san as TOYOTA GAZOO Racing and we will get strong next year.”

José María López (Driver, car #7): “I would like to thank everyone in the team in Japan and Cologne for their hard work and the trust they showed to give me this chance. Thanks to Kamui and Nyck, who did an amazing job, as did the mechanics and engineers. It was a rollercoaster of emotions for me, starting from 10 days ago when Mike got injured and I took his place. I was happy be here but also sad for him. Then the race was simply the hardest one I ever experienced, with the weather, having to start from last and losing time with slow zones, punctures and other issues. We always managed to come back, and we showed our strong spirit. I am proud of everyone for that. It is an emotional day for me because I don’t know when I might have another chance to compete for the win overall.”

Nyck de Vries (Driver, car #7): “First of all, I would like to thank Kamui, José and the whole team for their endless work and great efforts through this extremely tough Le Mans 24 Hours. It was an incredible race, with such close competition in such difficult conditions. It feels like we were so close yet so far to achieving our target. Nevertheless, it was a strong performance from the whole team, and we finished on the podium, which is a special moment for my first Le Mans with TOYOTA GAZOO Racing.”

Here’s how WEC Le Mans 24 Hours panned out

[Note: The story is as per press release]