After the time of glory that he lived during his time in the extinct WTCC with three consecutive titles and 29 victories, Jose Maria Lopez she made it a point to step out of her comfort zone. With the possibility that it gave Toyota from running in his World Endurance team, the Cordoba man managed to go in search of new challenges, such as driving a super tech car with 1.000 horsepower and, at the same time, achieve one of his dreams: to participate in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Last year this mythical race that takes place at the La Sarthe circuit showed him its darker side with the abandonment when the car he shared with the French Nicolas Lapierre and the Japanese Yuji kunimoto He left them on foot at dawn.
But in this year's edition Pechito, which this time ran alongside the English Mike conway and the Japanese Kamui KobayashiHe had his revenge and when he arrived second; right behind his other teammates: the Spanish Fernando Alonso, the Swiss Sébastien Buemi and he is also japanese Kazuki Nakajima.
The Toyota TS050 HYBRIDs were superior at all times and their triumph was only in doubt due to the toughness of the competition.. But with no one to overshadow them due to the poor performance of the other LMP1 with combustion engines (the third reached 12 laps), the Japanese hybrids overwhelmed from the start of the activity by leading the training and qualifying, an instance that remained for Alonso, Buemi and Nakajima.
El Toyota GAZOO Racing always had its two cars leading the pack And although he stressed that there would be no team play, there are still some doubts about whether both crews actually had the same weapons and the same strategies, or whether the Orientals they were seduced by the promotional coup of achieving success with Alonso, with all that it means to get the first victory at Le Mans with a driver of his magnitude and still active in Formula 1.
“Their car was always a little better than ours because it didn't suffer any problems. There is nothing to say; it was a flawless race for everyone. A very important result was achieved for the team and for all Toyota ”, summed up the Cordovan, who when he drove at night suffered with an unbalanced car due to the used tires. That circumstance later allowed Alonso, with new tires, to overcome him after discounting a two-minute lead for a penalty to Buemi for not respecting yellow flags.
Beyond that, Lopez did a superb job in all three of his shifts. He was the pilot who drove the longest, led the race and set records as fast as qualifying. Of the 24 hours he drove 8 hours and 53 minutes. In that period he completed 144 laps, of which in 65 he was in front of the general classification. That is to say that of the 1.963 km he accumulated, 885 km he did as the leader.
The final result allowed the Rio Tercero to become the third compatriot to make the podium at Le Mans after the great José Froilán González, which prevailed with an official Ferrari 375 Plus in 1954; Y Oscar larrauri, second in 1986 in a Brun Motorsport Porsche 962C.
In addition, he registered his name in the select group of Argentines who led the race together with González, Larrauri, Juan Manuel Fangio, Carlos Reutemann y Juan Manuelito Fangio.
“I knew it was a tough race, but I couldn't imagine how hard! I'm tired, but happy because I had a good race ”, Lopez said, adding another star to his already great campaign.