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Ferrari holds off Toyota to go back-to-back and win a rainy 24 Hours of Le Mans

24 hours of le mans race

Ferrari stops Toyota from winning Le MansNurPhoto – Getty Images

Ferrari goes back-to-back to claim victory in their return to the top level of racing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans; Ferrari No. 50 beat Toyota No. 7 to the finish by 14 seconds after 24 hours of changeable weather and fierce competition.

After Ferrari’s victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1965, the manufacturer took an eight-year hiatus and then disappeared for 50 years. They won in their return. They entered the Hypercar class in 2023 to pick up where they left off in 1973 with an overall win. Last year it was the trio behind car No. 51 that did this; in 2024 it will be car no. 50.

Car No. 51 was able to join its sister car on the podium after last year’s victory.

Nick Nielsen was the driver who took the car home for the Ferrari team, surviving an unlocked door that threw the team out of line and forced a 5-second penalty. He pitted with an hour and 42 minutes to go, and that pit might have put the team across the finish line. They were helped later when, with 32 minutes to go, the No. 88 GR Racing LMGT3 Ferrari suffered a mechanical problem, bringing out a yellow flag, perhaps saving the front-runner Ferrari.

At 5 a.m. local time it started to rain heavily on the track, leading to a four-hour safety car. Always hopeful that the rain would soon be over, no red flag was ever thrown and the drivers had to run in the dark with rain pouring sideways and being blinded by others’ brake lights.

Miguel Molina was the driver of the number 50 for most of the safety car period and the first Eurosport reporters to meet after the win. Molina emotionally talked about what the victory meant to him; he along with his teammate’s first overall victory.

“We gave it everything; it’s the best day of my career,” Molina said. “Thank you to everyone, thank you to everyone who has supported me since I was young. To my family, to my parents, to my children, to everyone, thank you very much.”

Ferrari’s podium with number 51 did not come without controversy. In Alessandro’s final hours, Pier Guidi was given a five-second penalty and crossed the line in third, despite having a five-second time penalty added to the penultimate pit stop for contact with the No. 8 Toyota of Brendon Hartley with two more hours to go.

Hartley’s Toyota spun and dropped to sixth place at the time, but managed to finish fifth in the hands of Sebastien Buemi.

Pier Guidi, who shared driving duties with fellow 2023 race winners James Calado and Antonio Giovinazzi, held off a hard-hitting Laurens Vanthoor for the final step of the podium, with a margin of less than 1.2 seconds at the line.

Vanthoor, in the No. 6 Penske Porsche that he drove for most of the race with polesitter Kevin Estre, was fourth in the car also shared by Andre Lotterer, who logged less than four hours of driving time.

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