Audi #2 Bags Win #3 in Le Mans 24 Hours

The Audi #2 of Benoit Treluyer, Andre Lotterer and Marcel Fassler took their third – and Audi’s thirteenth – Le Mans victory on Sunday after a pulsating and dramatic 24 Hour race in which each of the leading teams encountered problems. What seemed like a straight-forward walk in the park for Toyota, turned into one of the most intriguing and spectacular editions of the race for years.

StartThe race started with the #7 Toyota of Alexander Wurz leading the #14 Porsche of Neel Jani out of the final chicane. Behind the leading two who remained processional for the duration of the opening lap – the #7 Toyota for the duration of the first six hours – a ferocious battle was lining up, first between the #8 Toyota and the #2 and #3 Audi’s respectively. After the first “yellow zone” – caused by Nicolas Lapierre spinning the #7 at the second chicane and bringing debris onto the track – both Audi’s closed up on the Frenchman and ambushed him. Once passed however, the three cars were never separated by more than two seconds, due to the fact that while the Audi’s had more downforce, the Toyota had a vastly superior straight line speed.

Before all of this, the #14 Porsche of Jani had slowed with a fuel pressure issue, rendering it useless for 15 minutes while it was repaired in the pits. The other Porsche (#20) of Timo Bernhard found itself embroiled in another Audi attack, this time the #1 of Tom Kristensen. Again swapping positions lap after lap, the #1 Audi finally made the move stick and began to pull away until Kristensen pulled the Audi in for an early pitstop after Lapierre’s spin.

24 Hours of Le Mans

The first safety car came out in the second hour after a heavy rain storm engulfed the La Sarthe circuit. Initially exclusive to only a section of the track, conditions soon got worse, ensuring that all cars would be walking on egg shells at the very least. Down the Mulsanne Straight the #7 Toyota aquaplaned and spun into the right hand side barrier, suffering heavy damage to the front end. Nico Lapierre managed to restart the car and limp back to the pits; where it was worked on for 40 minutes; losing 8 laps in the process. Also involved in the incident was the #3 Audi driven at the time by Marco Bonanomi. Bonanomi slowed for a GT car in front of him and, unsighted by the GTE Am car of Sam Bird behind, was smashed into by the Ferrari, sending the Audi into the left hand side barrier with significant damage. The Italian, who was running third at the time, tried everything he could to restart the car but to no avail. Obviously distraught, the Italian climbed forlornly out of his stricken machine; race over.

The next hour brought with it another rain shower and this time it brought everyone into the pits for wet tyres. The #7 Toyota and the #2 Audi came in to change rubber which put the #20 Porsche into the overall lead. Timo Bernhard at the wheel surprised everyone by extending the lead – the Porsche seemingly working a lot better in slippery conditions – until the fourth hour. When the rain stopped and the circuit dried out, everyone was back in again to change back to slicks. The #20 Porsche retained its lead over the #7 Toyota and #2 Audi but was being carved into at a sharp rate of knots. First it came down to 20 seconds; then by the end of the fourth hour, it was down to just thirteen seconds.

24 Hours of Le MansAnother round of scheduled pitstops in the fifth hour saw the lead change and the #7 Toyota retook control of the race. The #20 Porsche maintained second place until a suspected puncture lost it time and position, and had to crawl back to the pits. Bernhard then briefly fell to fourth place while the #1 Audi was still circulating before its stop before moving back into third, albeit a lap behind the leader. The #7 Toyota meanwhile had extended its gap to over 50 seconds at the front.

While the lead was temporarily cut to just under 25 seconds, it was extended and almost doubled thanks to the second safety car of the race. This time, it was for the stricken LMP2 of Alex Imperatori who crashed between the fast Porsche curves and the Ford chicane. The Swiss driver emerged unscathed from the wreck.

From the eighth hour onwards the #7 Toyota continued to pull away substantially from the #2 Audi – who decided to quadruple stint its tyres in an attempt to close the gap and the #1 Audi. The two Audi’s were managing the gap to the lead Toyota and reduced the margin to 2 minutes and 1 lap respectively as Toyota changed tyres and drivers – Sarrazin replacing Wurz – until the #1 Audi began to slow with an apparent turbo issue on the Mulsanne Straight. It hobbled back to the pits – cutting out and resetting intermittently – and lost third place to the #20 Porsche of Brendon Hartley.

24 Hours of Le Mans

But soon after, in the 13th hour disaster struck for the lead car. The #7 Toyota slowed with a mysterious electrical issue and Nakajima stopped out on track at Arnage facing the wrong way. The Frenchman managed to get the car restarted and was able to crawl back to the garage upon which it was officially retired. The favourite was out and the #2 Audi took the lead.

Now with a big lead, the #2 Audi could afford to take it easy in this part of the race, but it too began to slow – again with a turbo issue. At the end of the 16th hour, Benoit Treluyer brought the car back to the pits: the Audi sitting there forlornly waiting for its sister #1 to pass. And it did eventually, a lap later. “Mr Le Mans” Tom Kristensen was back in the lead of the 24 Hours; though it too would encounter the same issue 4 hours later.

Meanwhile, the #20 Porsche quietly moved back into second place in the race, albeit being lapped in the 18th hour by the lead Audi. The positions stayed the same for the next 3 hours with the #12 Rebellion of Nick Heidfeld, Nicholas Prost and Andrea Beche running very strongly in 5th position.

Into the 21st hour it looked like the #1 Audi would miraculously take victory – especially after having had virtually no track time after Loïc Duval’s massive crash in practice on Wednesday – but alas it was crippled once more by a turbo issue. It briefly stopped and again had to reset. Kristensen brought the stricken Audi back to the pits for a second time as the #20 Porsche of Bernhard retook the lead. While at times it looked as though the #20 Porsche had the pace to pull away from the chasing #2 Audi of Andre Lotterer, the German in second place was closing rapidly. He closed to within three seconds before pitting to fuel and change tyres. The gap was extended slightly to forty nine seconds before disaster struck the lead car once more.

With almost exactly two hours left in the race, Mark Webber – who had just entered the car after switching with Bernhard – slowed dramatically coming onto the Mulsanne Straight. The Australian reported having a misfire and high oil temperatures as he hobbled (with just Hybrid power) his 919 Porsche back to the pits. The team – upon receiving Webber back to the garage – wheeled the car in and opted to stop working on it; meaning the erstwhile leader of the 24 Hours was out: for good.

24 Hours of Le Mans

The #2 Audi thus found itself back in the lead of the race, leading from the sister #1 Audi to make it a remarkable one-two. The #8 Toyota – after nearly being written off in the early deluge – was back in third place while the #14 Porsche of Marc Lieb was fourth some way behind. The Rebellion #12 of Nick Heidfeld continued to run in fifth.

The positions remained more or less the same until the end; the end of an absorbing, enthralling endurance race where seemingly none of the LMP1 runners wanted to lead. The final hour brought us our final LMP1 retirement, this time the #14 Porsche which pulled out with a gearbox issue and bringing an end to an encouraging but ultimately disappointing Le Mans 24 Hours debut for the returning German past winners. The #2 Audi gently stroked it home for a third Le Mans victory in four years for Benoit Treluyer, Andre Lotterer and Marcel Fassler. The #1 Audi pulled off a miracle recovery drive to finish second, one lap behind and the #8 Toyota of Anthony Davidson, Nicolas Lapierre and Sebastien Buemi rounded off a bitterly disappointing race for the Japanese marque. Behind them, the #12 Rebellion proved incredibly reliable for once, finishing a credible fourth ahead of the immensely impressive LMP2 class winner Zytek – Nissan of Oliver Turvey.

24 Hours of Le Mans

Pos Class No Team Drivers Chassis Tyre Laps
Engine
1 LMP1-H 2 Germany Audi Sport Team Joest Germany André Lotterer
Switzerland Marcel Fässler
France Benoît Tréluyer
Audi R18 e-tron quattro M 379
Audi TDI 4.0 L Turbo V6
(Diesel)
2 LMP1-H 1 Germany Audi Sport Team Joest Denmark Tom Kristensen
Spain Marc Gené[N 2]
Brazil Lucas di Grassi
Audi R18 e-tron quattro M 376
Audi TDI 4.0 L Turbo V6
(Diesel)
3 LMP1-H 8 Japan Toyota Racing United Kingdom Anthony Davidson
Switzerland Sébastien Buemi
France Nicolas Lapierre
Toyota TS040 Hybrid M 374
Toyota 3.7 L V8
4 LMP1-L 12 Switzerland Rebellion Racing France Nicolas Prost
Germany Nick Heidfeld
Switzerland Mathias Beche
Rebellion R-One M 360
Toyota RV8KLM 3.4 L V8
5 LMP2 38 United Kingdom Jota Sport United Kingdom Simon Dolan
United Kingdom Harry Tincknell
United Kingdom Oliver Turvey[N 3]
Zytek Z11SN D 356
Nissan VK45DE 4.5 L V8
6 LMP2 46 France Thiriet by TDS Racing France Pierre Thiriet
France Ludovic Badey
France Tristan Gommendy
Ligier JS P2 D 355
Nissan VK45DE 4.5 L V8
7 LMP2 36 France Signatech Alpine France Paul-Loup Chatin
France Nelson Panciatici
United Kingdom Oliver Webb
Alpine A450b D 355
Nissan VK45DE 4.5 L V8
8 LMP2 24 France Sébastien Loeb Racing Germany René Rast
Czech Republic Jan Charouz
France Vincent Capillaire
Oreca 03R M 354
Nissan VK45DE 4.5 L V8
9 LMP2 35 France OAK Racing United Kingdom Alex Brundle
United Kingdom Jann Mardenborough
Russia Mark Shulzhitskiy
Ligier JS P2 D 354
Nissan VK45DE 4.5 L V8
10 LMP2 43 Switzerland Newblood by Morand Racing Switzerland Gary Hirsch
France Romain Brandela
Austria Christian Klien
Morgan LMP2 D 352
Judd HK 3.6 L V8
11 LMP1-H 14 Germany Porsche Team Germany Marc Lieb
France Romain Dumas
Switzerland Neel Jani
Porsche 919 Hybrid M 348
Porsche 2.0 L Turbo V4
12 LMP2 33 France OAK Racing-Team Asia China David Cheng
China Ho-Pin Tung
China Adderly Fong
Ligier JS P2 M 347
Honda HR28TT 2.8 L Turbo V6
13 LMP2 34 Switzerland Race Performance Switzerland Michel Frey
France Franck Mailleux
United Kingdom Jon Lancaster
Oreca 03R D 342
Judd HK 3.6 L V8
14 LMP2 50 France Larbre Compétition France Pierre Ragues
Japan Keiko Ihara
United States Ricky Taylor
Morgan LMP2 M 341
Judd HK 3.6 L V8
15 LMGTE
Pro
51 Italy AF Corse Italy Gianmaria Bruni
Italy Giancarlo Fisichella
Finland Toni Vilander
Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 M 339
Ferrari 4.5 L V8
16 LMGTE
Pro
73 United States Corvette Racing Denmark Jan Magnussen
Spain Antonio García
United States Jordan Taylor
Chevrolet Corvette C7.R M 338
Chevrolet 5.5 L V8
17 LMGTE
Pro
92 Germany Porsche Team Manthey Germany Marco Holzer
France Frédéric Makowiecki
Austria Richard Lietz
Porsche 911 RSR M 337
Porsche 4.0 L Flat-6
18 LMP2 29 Germany Pegasus Racing France Julien Schell
France Léo Roussel
Switzerland Nicolas Leutwiler
Morgan LMP2 D 336
Nissan VK45DE 4.5 L V8
19 LMGTE
Am
95 United Kingdom Aston Martin Racing Denmark David Heinemeier Hansson
Denmark Kristian Poulsen
Denmark Nicki Thiim
Aston Martin V8 Vantage GTE M 334
Aston Martin 4.5 L V8
20 LMGTE
Pro
74 United States Corvette Racing United States Tommy Milner
United Kingdom Oliver Gavin
United Kingdom Richard Westbrook
Chevrolet Corvette C7.R M 333
Chevrolet 5.5 L V8
21 LMGTE
Am
88 Germany Proton Competition Germany Christian Ried
Austria Klaus Bachler
United Arab Emirates Khaled Al Qubaisi
Porsche 911 RSR M 332
Porsche 4.0 L Flat-6
22 LMGTE
Am
61 Italy AF Corse Argentina Luís Pérez Companc
Italy Marco Cioci
Italy Mirko Venturi
Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 M 331
Ferrari 4.5 L V8
23 LMGTE
Am
90 United States 8 Star Motorsports United States Frankie Montecalvo
Italy Paolo Ruberti
Italy Gianluca Roda
Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 M 330
Ferrari 4.5 L V8
24 LMGTE
Am
77 United States Dempsey RacingProton United States Patrick Dempsey
United States Joe Foster
United States Patrick Long
Porsche 911 RSR M 329
Porsche 4.0 L Flat-6
25 LMP2 42 Malaysia Caterham Racing United Kingdom Tom Kimber-Smith
United States Chris Dyson
United States Matt McMurry
Zytek Z11SN D 329
Nissan VK45DE 4.5 L V8
26 LMGTE
Am
98 United Kingdom Aston Martin Racing Canada Paul Dalla Lana
Portugal Pedro Lamy
Denmark Christoffer Nygaard
Aston Martin V8 Vantage GTE M 329
Aston Martin 4.5 L V8
27 LMGTE
Am
66 United Kingdom JMW Motorsport Saudi Arabia Abdulaziz Al-Faisal
United States Seth Neiman
United States Spencer Pumpelly
Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 M 327
Ferrari 4.5 L V8
28 LMGTE
Am
70 Japan Team Taisan Japan Shinji Nakano
United Kingdom Martin Rich
Germany Pierre Ehret
Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 M 327
Ferrari 4.5 L V8
29 LMGTE
Am
58 France Team Sofrev ASP France Anthony Pons
France Soheil Ayari
France Fabien Barthez
Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 M 325
Ferrari 4.5 L V8
30 LMGTE
Am
57 United States Krohn Racing United States Tracy Krohn
Sweden Niclas Jönsson
United Kingdom Ben Collins
Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 M 324
Ferrari 4.5 L V8
31 LMGTE
Am
76 France IMSA Performance Matmut France Raymond Narac
France Nicolas Armindo
France David Hallyday
Porsche 997 GT3-RSR M 323
Porsche 4.0 L Flat-6
32 LMGTE
Am
53 United Kingdom Ram Racing United Kingdom Johnny Mowlem
United Kingdom Archie Hamilton
United States Mark Patterson
Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 M 319
Ferrari 4.5 L V8
33 LMGTE
Pro
79 Belgium Prospeed Competition[N 4] Netherlands Jeroen Bleekemolen
United States Cooper MacNeil
Porsche 997 GT3-RSR M 319
Porsche 4.0 L Flat-6
34 LMGTE
Am
67 France IMSA Performance Matmut France Erik Maris
France Jean-Marc Merlin
France Éric Hélary
Porsche 997 GT3-RSR M 317
Porsche 4.0 L Flat-6
35 LMGTE
Pro
97 United Kingdom Aston Martin Racing United Kingdom Darren Turner
Germany Stefan Mücke
Brazil Bruno Senna
Aston Martin V8 Vantage GTE M 310
Aston Martin 4.5 L V8
36 LMGTE
Pro
91 Germany Porsche Team Manthey France Patrick Pilet
United Kingdom Nick Tandy
Germany Jörg Bergmeister
Porsche 911 RSR M 309
Porsche 4.0 L Flat-6
37 LMP2 27 Russia SMP Racing Russia Sergey Zlobin
Russia Anton Ladygin
Finland Mika Salo
Oreca 03R M 303
Nissan VK45DE 4.5 L V8
38 LMGTE
Am
62 Italy AF Corse France Yannick Mollégol
France Jean-Marc Bachelier
United States Howard Blank
Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 M 295
Ferrari 4.5 L V8
NC LMP1-H 20 Germany Porsche Team Germany Timo Bernhard
New Zealand Brendon Hartley
Australia Mark Webber
Porsche 919 Hybrid M 346
Porsche 2.0 L Turbo V4
DNF LMP1-H 7 Japan Toyota Racing Austria Alexander Wurz
France Stéphane Sarrazin
Japan Kazuki Nakajima
Toyota TS040 Hybrid M 219
Toyota 3.7 L V8
DNF LMGTE
Am
72 Russia SMP Racing Italy Andrea Bertolini
Russia Viktor Shaitar
Russia Alexsey Basov
Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 M 196
Ferrari 4.5 L V8
DNF LMGTE
Am
75 Belgium Prospeed Competition France François Perrodo
France Emmanuel Collard
Finland Markus Palttala
Porsche 997 GT3-RSR M 194
Porsche 4.0 L Flat-6
DNF LMGTE
Pro
52 United Kingdom Ram Racing Republic of Ireland Matt Griffin
Portugal Álvaro Parente
Italy Federico Leo
Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 M 140
Ferrari 4.5 L V8
DNF LMP2 26 Russia G-Drive Racing Russia Roman Rusinov
France Olivier Pla
France Julien Canal
Morgan LMP2 D 120
Nissan VK45DE 4.5 L V8
DNF LMGTE
Am
60 Italy AF Corse United States Peter Ashley Mann
Italy Lorenzo Casè
Italy Raffaele Giammaria
Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 M 115
Ferrari 4.5 L V8
DNF LMP2 47 Hong Kong KCMG United Kingdom Matthew Howson
United Kingdom Richard Bradley
Switzerland Alexandre Imperatori
Oreca 03R M 87
Nissan VK45DE 4.5 L V8
DNF LMP1-L 13 Switzerland Rebellion Racing Italy Andrea Belicchi
Switzerland Fabio Leimer
Austria Dominik Kraihamer
Rebellion R-One M 73
Toyota RV8KLM 3.4 L V8
DNF LMP2 48 Republic of Ireland Murphy Prototypes France Nathanaël Berthon
India Karun Chandhok
Venezuela Rodolfo González
Oreca 03R D 73
Nissan VK45DE 4.5 L V8
DNF LMP2 41 United Kingdom Greaves Motorsport United Kingdom Michael Munemann
United Kingdom Alessandro Latif
United Kingdom James Winslow
Zytek Z11SN D 31
Nissan VK45DE 4.5 L V8
DNF LMGTE
Pro
71 Italy AF Corse Italy Davide Rigon
Germany Pierre Kaffer[N 5]
Monaco Olivier Beretta
Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 M 28
Ferrari 4.5 L V8
DNF LMP1-H 3 Germany Audi Sport Team Joest Portugal Filipe Albuquerque
Italy Marco Bonanomi
United Kingdom Oliver Jarvis
Audi R18 e-tron quattro M 25
Audi TDI 4.0 L Turbo V6
(Diesel)
DNF LMGTE
Am
81 Italy AF Corse Australia Stephen Wyatt
Italy Michele Rugolo
United Kingdom Sam Bird
Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 M 22
Ferrari 4.5 L V8
DNF LMP2 37 Russia SMP Racing Russia Kirill Ladygin
Italy Maurizio Mediani
France Nicolas Minassian
Oreca 03R M 9
Nissan VK45DE 4.5 L V8
DNF 0 Japan Nissan Motorsports Global Spain Lucas Ordóñez
Belgium Wolfgang Reip
Japan Satoshi Motoyama
Nissan ZEOD RC M 5
Nissan 1.5 L Turbo I3
WD[N 6] LMGTE
Pro
99 United Kingdom Aston Martin Racing Hong Kong Darryl O’Young
United Kingdom Alex MacDowall
Brazil Fernando Rees
Aston Martin V8 Vantage GTE M
Aston Martin 4.5 L V8

Images: http://www.motorsport.com
Results: Wikipedia

 

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