|Winning #1 Audi R18 e-ton quattro of Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler|
By Tarek Ramchani and Johan Laubscher
Audi has just won the 80th Le Mans 24 Hours making history in the process. The victory for the Audi R18 e-tron quattro is the first ever overall win for a Hybrid powered car at La Sarthe. This is the eleventh overall victory for the Ingolstadt brand at the world famous endurance race. It is also the thirteenth win for Audi’s partners from Joest Racing as a team at Le Mans. It was a dominant display ending with a terrific 1-2-3 finish in the end.
Race victory went to Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler in the #1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro. It was full domination at Le Mans, the car had also set pole position and lead most parts of the race. A back to back victory for the 2011 winners, and the second straight for Leena Gade as the lead car engineer. The car won the race but was really lucky on Sunday morning avoiding a stopped Corvette C6.R and the tire wall. Le Mans again proved Lady Luck is always needed to win along with a very fast pace. In second place was their team mates Allan McNish, Dindo Capello and Tom Kristensen in the sister #2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro. The "Old Warriors" kept fighting hard during the entire race right to the end. Within the last 3 hours McNish had a big crash in the Porsche curves in avoidance of a slower car. The subsequent damage dropped the car away from the #1 Audi and ended the dramatic chase between the two leading e-tron cars. This did not stop McNish from trying to chase down the sister car but the gap was just too large. In the end it was a fine second place finish for the three drivers on Dindo Capello's birthday, but they will most certainly think of what could have been.
In third was the #4 Audi R18 ultra of Mike Rockenfeller, Marco Bonanomi and Oliver Jarvis. The car did faced some troubles in the early stages of the race. During the morning the #3 had 2 situations where the car came to a stop but was quickly restarted.Despite the small problems the #3 crew managed to run consistent and reliable for the remainder of the race to secure third outright. In fifth landed the #3 Audi R18 ultra shared by Loic Duval, Romain Dumas and Marc Gene. The car was extremely unlucky as it crashed during the first hours of the race at the first chicane and had a spin during the night. During the morning hours the #3 had a second crash at the first chicane which was almost an exact copy of the crash the previous day. The second crash dropped the car from 4th to 5th, unfortunately ending Audi's 1-2-3-4 stronghold at the front of the field. It lost a lot of time in its garage repairing damage. Later the three drivers pushed really hard to try and regain fourth place but ultimately the gap was too large.
For many the 1-2-3 Audi win was somewhat of a piece of cake and a very easy win. Despite this it was Audi's race to lose and with the collisions and incidents during the race it could well have been a very different story. In the end it was not the 1-2-3-4 result that had been predicted but still a very impressive 1-2-3 podium sweep. Despite domination from Audi the challengers from Toyota and their TS030 Hybrid were really strong. In the first hours of the race, both teams battled hard on track. The Audis managed to stay in front at the start. Later the Toyotas started to catch and even took the overall lead. Immediately after the #7 Toyota took the lead a huge crash sent the #8 Toyota out of the race. Anthony Davidson flipped with his TS030, luckily Anthony is stable but is in hospital with a reported broken back. Over one hour under full course yellow followed. Back to green and drama hit the sister #7 Toyota immediately. Nakajima fighting for the overall lead hit the DeltaWing Nissan. Car damaged it spent a lot of time in its garage and later it retired during the night. From that moment the Audi squad had full control of the race with both R18 e-tron quattro fighting amongst each other. The in house battle between the two Hybrid powered R18 cars was really fierce. Tom Kristensen and Marcel Fassler fought nose to tail at the eighteenth hour mark. The R18 e-tron quattro secured the first two spots taking the first overall hybrid win at Le Mans and has given Audi a very strong points lead in the FIA World Endurance Championship. Both #1 and #2 cars are the only cars nominated to score points for Audi.
Audi has won the 2012 Le Mans 24 Hours, adding a third major endurance victory this year after the 12 Hours of Sebring and the Nürbrugring 24 Hours. The new comers from Toyota have shown a great pace and potential first time out. Both teams are set to battle again next time out at Silverstone, round 4 of the FIA WEC.
|Second place finish for #2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro of Allan McNish, Dindo Capello and Tom Kristensen|
|Third place finish for #4 Audi R18 ultra of Mike Rockenfeller, Oliver Jarvis and Marco Bonanomi|
|Fifth place finish for #3 Audi R18 ultra of Loic Duval, Romain Dumas and Marc Gene|