An emotional but delighted Fernando Alonso lavished praise on the Toyota team that helped him secure the second leg of motorsport's Triple Crown, the Le Mans 24 Hours on Sunday.
The Spaniard, alongside two other former Formula 1 drivers in Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi, overcame the challenge of their teammates in the No.7 car to win by two laps, with Alonso's night stint playing a key role after falling behind in the early hours.
It was Nakajima that brought the Toyota home as they put the ghosts of recent losses behind them in a dominant performance that was largely expected, but to get the job done at his first attempt meant a lot to the two-time F1 champion as he considered his first trip to the Circuit de la Sarthe.
"It has been amazing," Alonso declared. "We know how important and iconic Le Mans is in the world of motorsport and as a team we achieved an amazing result.
"Every moment was a reminder of how tough and long this race is, anything can happen so we tried to execute our race and stay calm. Happily, everything worked well."
It was only a late mistake by Kamui Kobayashi to miss the pit entry for a scheduled stop resulting in two penalties which eased the pressure somewhat on the No.8 car and allowed Nakajima to cruise to the finish.
And the close nature of the battle between both cars surprised the McLaren F1 driver.
The race was hard because the two cars were very close, within one minute after 23 hours," he commented.
"So it was tough - competitive but fair, and very sporting. We wanted a one-two and we achieved that so I am very happy."
As for his run during the night which saw Alonso lapping four seconds faster at times than what was at that point the other Toyota ahead, the 36-year-old added: "I felt good at night, into the zone, and I tried to push.
"Sometimes you get frustrated with traffic, sometimes you get lucky. Also my laps, when I got lucky, it’s a nice feeling!"
With the WEC currently involved in a 'super-season' stretched over the next two years, Alonso will get the chance to defend his Le Mans crown in 2019.
But with just the Indianapolis 500 left to match Graham Hill and become the second driver ever to win the Triple Crown, chances are that could well be his main focus in the next 11 months.
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