Sebastien Buemi feared a repeat of Toyota's heartbreaking defeat from 2016 during the closing stages of the 24 Hours of Le Mans on Sunday, but found it "really special" to see the car cross the line for the biggest win of his racing career.

Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima were part of the Toyota crew that suffered a terminal car failure in the final few minutes of the 2016 race, with the duo teaming up with Formula 1 driver Fernando Alonso for this year's race in the #8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid.

The trio scored pole position on Thursday before overturning a two-minute deficit in the race to score Toyota's first Le Mans victory at its 20th attempt, ending the Japanese manufacturer's long-running hoodoo at the endurance classic.

Speaking after the race, Buemi made no secret of his jubilation, but conceded he found it difficult to watch amid fears of a repeat of the 2016 failure that could deny them victory.



"I think that’s definitely the biggest win of my career. I'm struggling to realise it," Buemi said after the race.

"I was watching Kazuki in the car during the last few laps and I could not forget 2016! So in the end to finally see the car crossing [the line] was something really special.

"All the preparation that goes behind that day, all of us, all six drivers, we’ve spent so many days and nights. And when you finally win it it’s something really big. So I’m really trying to enjoy it as well."

Buemi aided the #8 crew in its fightback following a puncture and an in-race penalty for speeding in a slow zone, with the eventual margin of victory being two laps after the #7 Toyota hit trouble in the final two hours.

However, he was unsure at one stage that they would be able to fight back for the win given the deficit to the car ahead.

"I got the penalty because I was too quick under the slow zone, and at that point, I felt it was going to be difficult," Buemi said.

"I gave the car to Fernando 2m15s behind the #7, and then when I woke up, it was something like 40 seconds. He did an amazing job.

"Throughout the race the balance of the car was changing a lot. I think at the end I think we had a bit of a better balance towards the middle of the race and we maybe struggled a little bit more at the start.

"The two cars were very close together, so congratulations also to car #7. They have done an amazing job."


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