24 Hours of Le Mans – Japanese and Chinese firsts in endurance history
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24 Hours of Le Mans – Japanese and Chinese firsts in endurance history

This big endurance weekend between Fuji and Shanghai allows us to take stock of great first-time achievements for Japan, China, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and endurance.

In addition to wonderful stories over the past quarter century, this year was equally rich for the crossed paths of two great Asian countries. Detailed review before the third round of the Asian Le Mans Series at Shanghai (October 11th) and the fifth race of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) at Fuji (October 12th).

1990
- Nissan is the first Japanese manufacturer to clinch the pole position at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, thanks to British driver Mark Blundell.

1991
- Johnny Herbert, Bertrand Gachot and Volker Weidler's victory made Mazda the first (and sole to date) Japanese manufacturer to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

1995
- Teammate of Finnish driver JJ Lehto and French driver Yannick Dalmas, Masanori Sekiya is the first Japanese driver to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans, at the wheel of a McLaren F1 GTR. His fellow countryman Seiji Ara joined him in 2004, along with Tom Kristensen and Dindo Capello in an Audi R8.

1999
- Third at the wheel of the Toyota GT-One, Ukyo Katayama, Keiichi Tsuchiya and Toshio Suzuki made up the first 100% Japanese driver line-up to reach the podium of the 24 Hours.

2008
- First Chinese driver at the start of the 24 Hours, Cong Fu Cheng finished third in the LM P2 class (18th overall), along with Pierre Ragues and Matthieu Lahaye in a Pescarolo of the Saulnier Racing team (today OAK Racing).

2012
- Partner of the DeltaWing project, Nissan inaugurated Garage 56 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, reserved for a non-ranking, innovative prototype.

2013
- KCMG is the first Chinese team to take the start in La Sarthe.

2014
- In the Toyota TS040 Hybrid, Kazuki Nakajima is the first Japanese driver to clinch the pole position at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
- First participation of a 100% Chinese team at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. At the wheel of the No. 33 Ligier JS P2-Honda HPD, Adderly Fong-David Cheng-Ho Pin Tung finished seventh in the LM P2 class.
- KCMG won the LM P2 class at the 6 Hours of the Circuit of the Americs, fourth race in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).