24h Le Mans
02/06/2019 - 17:16

The four 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans winning driver line-ups are back!

They won the 2018 running of the race and now they're the ones to beat. Here are their thoughts going into this year's edition of the iconic race.
The four 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans winning driver line-ups are back!

Fernando Alonso (TOYOTA GAZOO Racing #8 Toyota, LMP1)

"Coming back here fires me up. It's such a magical place and I'm happy to be back after a year. I have great memories from last year and I'm ready to jump behind the wheel. I haven't really thought about whether or not this is my last race here. But, it is the last race of the championship (FIA WEC, Ed.) and it's the most important, so we'd like to finish on a high note. There's less pressure than in 2018 because we had the best car. We felt pressure to win, to get the long-awaited result. We even did tests for this race alone. It was my first participation and I was learning a lot about this race. There was an enormous amount of pressure, including on the team. We had a real advantage in terms of performance, but Toyota had never won the 24 Hours of Le Mans. We had this spotlight on us. This year, Toyota is already assured to win the championship, so it's more about celebrating. This is the last round of the season, and if we do good work and win again, it would be fantastic for the team. We need to use the same approach, meaning respect the competition which, as we know, is challenging when it comes to the car, particularly. You have to be on alert for 24 hours. We'll adopt a conservative approach, first and foremost finishing the race. It's really important for us not to get a nil result, especially not due to driver error. We can't make any mistakes."

Kazuki Nakajima (TOYOTA GAZOO Racing #8 Toyota, LMP1)

"I wouldn't exactly say I'm relaxed. But it's not like last year when there was an undeniable feeling that we absolutely had to win this race. There was enormous pressure on the team. This year we need to win again, but the first victory is on the books. We know what we need to do this year and what we need to achieve for the win. And I think that makes a difference. It's another frame of mind."

Pierre Thiriet (Signatech Alpine Matmut #36 Alpine, LMP2)

"What's different is that we're clearly heading toward the World Endurance Championship title, which wasn't the case last year since it was only the second race of the season. Le Mans stands out in a championship, it's so important to do well at Le Mans that invariably you come to win, to get the same result as last year. We'll need to be patient during the race, and perform at a very high level because there are 20 cars in our category. At least 10 are capable of winning. The level is so high we can't rest on our laurels. We'll need to work hard starting tomorrow (today, Ed.). We're going to try and approach the race like we did last year. But as the current leader in the championship, you tell yourself you could lose both, the race and the title, and do everything you can so that doesn't happen."

Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche GT Team #92 Porsche, LMGTE Pro)

"I'm always asked if there's more pressure after winning the previous year's edition. To me, it's the reverse. We won here last year, a victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans is on all our track records, that's a done deal. We've proven we can win here. And I don't think we're expected to win two years in a row. Obviously, it's our goal to win again. But we're feeling a little less pressure. I'm a bit less stressed. When the start is given, it will be the same, we're here to win, of course. But personally, there are races I want to win in my career. Le Mans was one of them and now I have. I feel more relaxed and more confident."

Christian Ried (Dempsey-Proton Racing #77 Porsche, LMGTE Am)

"It's not all that different, you know? It's always wonderful to come here and take the start, but the race is still hard to call and is a huge challenge. We're here awhile before the race, you can't wait to take the start, and once you get going, it's just incredible. Like last year, we want to win again, but it's a lot easier said than done."

 

PHOTO: LE MANS (SARTHE, FRANCE), CIRCUIT DES 24 HEURES DU MANS, (RACE) 2018. The four winning driver line-ups in the four categories in 2018 are all competing in the 87th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Among them, Sébastien Buemi, Fernando Alonso and Kazuki Nakajima in the #8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid.