24 Hours of Le Mans – Sébastien Buemi (Toyota), four wins and a place among the giants of Le Mans

It is a story like the 24 Hours of Le Mans, this race that demands humility from its contenders and is said to pick its winners after a series of adventures where the imponderable n is never far away. Sébastien Buemi is among the four times winners of the biggest (endurance) race in the world since Sunday, because he has ticked all the boxes again to deserve to live his new awake dream.

“It simply came to our notice thenhe declared. Since 2016, I never believed it until we crossed the finish line. It’s great to be able to do it again. It’s a great feeling. “

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The Swiss is one of the giants of Le Mans. Since the arrival of this 90th edition of the Sarthois marathon, it has been possible to compare it with legends such as the Belgian Olivier Gendebien and the French Henri Pescarolo and Yannick Dalmas, four times consecrated. And he has everything to look forward to, at just 33 years old, joining the three 5-star champions next year: Britain’s Derek Bell, Germany’s Frank Biela and Italy’s Emanuele Pirro.

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Before you think about challenging Jacky Ickx and his six trophies, then the ultimate reference, the immense Tom “Monsieur Le Mans” Kristensen and his nine monuments. What will determine the future, in the midst of a much fiercer competition from 2023, the year of the centenary of Le Mans and the return through the front door of Ferrari, Porsche and Peugeot, to name a few. “We will do it step by step, as always“He said.

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The embodiment of the spirit of resistance

Beyond his dimension as a resistance fighter, Sébastien Buemi is a true legend of motorsport for the exemplary nature of his career. He tasted Formula 1 without frustration for three seasons with Toro Rosso (2009-2011). Unlike many pilots, he was cured of this unattended experience before falling ill. Well, not at all: with his impeccable mood, his very professional approach to work, he immediately put himself at the service of Red Bull Racing accepting the role of “pilot” of the simulator.

An ungrateful job he’s been doing for a few years now, Friday night through Saturday night at the Grand Prix but not just, at the Milton Keynes factory, testing adjustments for the headlines. Last October, during the Austin United States Grand Prix, for example, he validated some decisive scenarios for Max Verstappen, who finally managed to defeat Lewis Hamilton on Sunday.

Sébastien Buemi is also the story of an infallible loyalty. The native of Aigle only knows one employer for each category in which he works: Formula E shots since 2014, although due to circumstances he will have to look for another place in 2023, and Toyota in Endurance since 2013. For good reason that knows how to put the interests of his team ahead when necessary, and was seen again this weekend when Toyota moderated the pace of its GR010 No. 8 to roll in formation with No. 7, and better cut its way in traffic. On Saturday night, he even let Mike Conway overtake him in the lead, as it was obviously a Gazoo Racing instruction.

A turning point? Toyota No. 7 stopped, Toyota No. 8 seized the opportunity to take the lead

“It simply came to our notice thenexplained. The key moment was when the number 7 had its problem this morning. It gave us some air to finish without worries. It’s a little hard to notice, I remember being there not long ago, I didn’t have any, now I have four. “Buemi commented on Sunday.

Drivers don’t struggle to get started

All this means that today it remains the least common denominator of Toyota’s years in Endurance. The only driver who has known it all, starting with the bitter failures against the Audi and Porsche navies. Also bad luck, which deprived him of a victory in the last lap at Le Mans in 2016. But, it is true, the curse has more often haunted the No. 7 sister car.

Since 2018, Toyota has won five times, and has seen its teammates spin at No. 8: Kazuki Nakajima, Fernando Alonso, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa, who landed this year in the Japanese Super GT to win the bet.

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We could also add that he had left the lion’s share to Brendon Hartley, letting him classify the car on Thursday evening, and take the light at Le Mans night by taking pole position. Because ? Because he knew his role, defined and assumed for a long time. “Drivers don’t struggle to get started“There are several reasons for this: being alone in the warm-up on Saturday morning of the departure, respecting the drastic procedures at the departure, at the risk of charging penalties and weighing the entry crew.

On Sunday, Brendon Hartley drove the car to victory, and it was pure luck. A privilege after which Sébastien Buemi did not show up. He only knew that he had fulfilled his part of the contract, while his new partner, Ryo Hirakawa, hoped to dream of completing the 24 Hours of Le Mans at the wheel. Without specifying that, ideally, he would like to be with a colleague named Sébastien Buemi.

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