Circuit de la Sarthe, Sunday 17 June 2018 –
After an intense and demanding 24 hours of racing, it was redemption for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing at the 86th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Having come extremely close in previous years, the No. 8 Toyota, with Kazuki Nakajima at the wheel, reached the chequered flag first after a gruelling 388 laps. The No. 7 sister car finished second, just two laps down, completing an historic one-two for the Japanese manufacturer’s maiden victory at this iconic race. The 24 Hours of Le Mans never fails to impress and exceed expectations, always requiring the utmost in performance and reliability from the drivers and teams – values that resonate very closely with Rolex, the Official Timepiece of the race.
The two hybrid cars led the field from start to finish, making the most of their ability to achieve longer stints than their fellow Le Mans Prototype 1 (LMP1) competitors. During the night, the No. 7 Toyota topped the timing sheets as the drivers battled hard with traffic and slow zones, but it was the No. 8 that proved to have better pace. By daybreak, it had reaffirmed its strong hold on the race, pulling out a comfortable lead, which was retained to the flag. Behind them, Rebellion Racing confirmed their status as the strongest non-hybrid LMP1 team securing the third step on the podium with the No. 3 car. It was a dominant and exemplary display by No. 26 G-Drive Racing in the LMP2 category who led from the first hour to win their class and finish fifth in the overall standings.
As anticipated, GT Racing was fiercely competitive, with the Porsche cars leading across both classes for most of the 24 hours. In particular, the LMGTE Pro cars kept spectators on the edge of their seats as Porsche, Ford and Ferrari battled throughout, finishing within just a couple of laps of each other. Ultimately, it was the No. 92 Porsche GT Team that took the honours, pipping the Porsche No. 91 to the line. There was more exciting wheel-to-wheel racing on display in the LMGTE Am category with the popular No. 77 Dempsey – Proton Racing finishing first.
It was a momentous and important win for FIA Formula 1® World Champion, Fernando Alonso, who has set out to claim motor sport’s triple crown: victory at the FORMULA 1 GRAND PRIX DE MONACO, 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Indianapolis 500. The Spaniard becomes only the fifth driver to win both in Monaco and at Le Mans. After the race, his teammate, Kazuki Nakajima said: “It has been a long time coming, I’m speechless. To win this race has been a dream of ours. We managed to keep completely focused until the chequered flag and that’s what brought us victory.”
Reflecting on the race, Rolex Testimonee, Tom Kristensen emphasised the qualities required to succeed in this twice-around-the-clock contest. The nine-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans said: “For a chance of victory here, one needs to display absolute determination and humility throughout the 24 hours, as the teams and drivers have to accept and anticipate all kinds of challenges. The winning team has shown this in the most demanding of situations, so it is a fitting reward for them to succeed. Receiving a Rolex Daytona on the podium after displaying such dedication and perseverance is particularly memorable – the watch will forever tell the story of this very special moment.”
43 cars finished the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2018, showing an impressive combination of technology and human performance at the highest level. The 24 Hours of Le Mans transcends motor sport and exemplifies Rolex’s strong association with the sport, founded on excellence, innovation and a passion to push the boundaries of what is possible.
ROLEX AND ENDURANCE RACING
The FIA World Endurance Championship will race in Belgium, France, UK, Japan, China and the USA during the 2018 – 2019 season. The 1000 Miles of Sebring makes a highly anticipated return and both the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps and 24 Hours of Le Mans feature twice, with the 2019 edition of Le Mans staging the finale and the crowning moment of the 14-month Championship. In line with Rolex’s passion for endurance racing, the watch brand is the Official Timepiece of the FIA World Endurance Championship and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, as well as Title Sponsor of the Rolex 24 at DAYTONA. Engine performance and reliability, along with driver and team stamina, are tested to the limit during these challenging races, showcasing motor sport at the highest level.
AN UNRIVALLED REPUTATION FOR QUALITY AND EXPERTISE
Rolex, a Swiss watch manufacture headquartered in Geneva, is recognized the world over for its expertise and the quality of its products. Its Oyster and Cellini watches, all certified as Superlative Chronometers for their precision, performance and reliability, are symbols of excellence, elegance and prestige. Founded by Hans Wilsdorf in 1905, the brand pioneered the development of the wristwatch and is at the origin of numerous major watchmaking innovations, such as the Oyster, the first waterproof wristwatch, launched in 1926, and the Perpetual rotor self-winding mechanism invented in 1931. Rolex has registered over 400 patents in the course of its history. A truly integrated and independent manufacturing company, Rolex designs, develops and produces in-house all the essential components of its watches, from the casting of the gold alloys to the machining, crafting, assembly and finishing of the movement, case, dial and bracelet. Through philanthropic programmes and a broad palette of sponsorship activities, Rolex is also actively involved in supporting the arts, sports and exploration, and encourages the spirit of enterprise, as well as the conservation of natural environments.