Fernando Alonso says his #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing team didn’t deserve to take victory from the sister #7 car at the 24 Hours of Le Mans but accepts the unforgiving nature of the iconic endurance race created the chance for his team to strike.

When Alonso completed his final stint, the #8 car remained over two minutes behind the leading #7 Toyota and looked set to settle for second place, duly sealing the World Endurance Championship drivers’ title along with teammates Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima, but the victory was gifted to the Spaniard’s team with one hour remaining.

After Jose Maria Lopez was called to pit due to a puncture on his #7 TS050 Hybrid, the team fitted a one new tyre only changing the front-right, but as the Argentine driver left the pits still in the lead he quickly realised he was still carrying a puncture which forced a slow lap around Circuit de la Sarthe.

That allowed Nakajima to eat up the gap and overtake Lopez before he pitted again to change all tyres. Despite a gallant charge over the final hour the #7 Toyota would miss out by 16 seconds to Alonso’s car.

Speaking after the victory celebrations alongside his crestfallen teammates, Alonso conceded his team didn’t deserve a second consecutive Le Mans victory following its 2018 triumph and sympathised with the #7 crew having previously suffered a similar fate in his career.

“We didn’t have the pace for 24 hours. We were not as quick as car 7, and definitely we didn’t deserve to win on the track,” Alonso said. “The luck today was a big factor as it is in motorsport.

“I remember watching on television when Kazuki stopped one minute before the end in 2016. What can you do in those cases? They are incredibly hard. Unfortunately I’ve experienced those moments as well, fighting for the world championship with McLaren in 2007 and Ferrari in 2010 and 2012.

“When you arrive at the last moment and you are unable to finish the job, you feel bad and I feel sad. I feel for my teammates because they are not only teammates but friends as well. They deserve it today.”

Alonso feels victory at the 2018-2019 WEC finale marked his Toyota campaign as mission accomplished having claimed his third world title, plus two Le Mans victories, as he moves his focus to claiming the third and final leg of his ‘Triple Crown’ having missed out last month by failing to qualifying for the Indianapolis 500.

“The race choose us to win it, and we take it,” he said. “Our main goal was to be world champions, and I’m extremely proud of that as well. It’s been a long super season.

“Last year was hard because I committed to do F1 plus the full WEC, not just Le Mans, because I wanted to fight for one more world championship, and today is the day that we take it, so it’s a very important day.”