Motorsport: Kiwi Brendon Hartley wins second Le Mans 24 hour race

Kiwi driver Brendon Hartley has won his second Le Mans 24 hour title, helping Toyota to their third straight win in the French classic. 

Hartley, Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi guided their Toyota Hybrid car home in the last Le Mans before the start of a new Hypercar era in 2021.

Nakajima and Buemi won their third consecutive title, after triumphs in 2018 and 2019 alongside Fernando Alonso, and while Alonso's replacement, Hartley, followed his Porsche win in 2017.

The race, first staged in 1923 and now in its 88th edition, was held for the first time without spectators, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last year's event attracted 250,000, many of them British motor racing fans making the trek to the circuit in northwest France.

Four Kiwis have won the iconic event - Hartley joins former teammate Earl Bamber as a two-time winner, while Chris Amon and Bruce McLaren shared victory in the 1966 race made famous in the movie Ford v Ferrari.

"We miss the fans," says Hartley. "It doesn't feel quite the same as it normally does.

"To win it with two different manufacturers feels amazing. I feel at home here, I love it."

Brendon Hartley (L) lifts the trophy with his teammates.
Brendon Hartley (L) lifts the trophy with his teammates. Photo credit: Getty

Hartley, who drove in Formula One in 2017 and 2018, has been involved in Formula E and the World Endurance Championship this year.

Swiss-based Rebellion Racing's No.1 R13 Gibson car, driven by Brazilian Bruno Senna, American Gustavo Menezes and France's Norman Nato, finished second and Toyota completed the podium with their No.7 car.