Audi has taken out this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race, with its number ‘2’ R18 TDI Le Mans prototype clenching victory at the hands of Marcel Fässler (Switzerland), André Lotterer (Germany) and Benoît Tréluyer (France).
The achievement marks Audi’s tenth victory at Le Mans, though the automaker came close to having its most disastrous weekend ever at the race. While the number 2 R18 successfully completed the race in the fastest time, the number ‘1’ and ‘3’ cars crashed spectacularly in the first eight hours of the epic 24 hours event.
We already saw the horrific crash of the number 3 R18 piloted by two-time Le Mans winner Allan McNish. The crash in the number 1 car, meanwhile, looked just as bad but driver Mike Rockenfeller managed to walk away from the wreckage, just as McNish did earlier in the race.
Even without the crashes the race was certainly thrilling. Despite starting on pole, the number 2 Audi R18 was in battle against three factory-fielded Peugeot race cars that left no stone unturned to keep Audi from taking victory.
Audi R18 TDI #2 wins 24 Hours of Le Mans
On Sunday morning the four quickest vehicles were still within just a few seconds of each other at the front of the field. The lead kept changing, also on account of the different strategies, and here the reliability of the new Audi R18 TDI proved impressive.
Across the entire race distance the number 2 car only had to come in for a single unscheduled stop. A problem with the fuel tank caused a bit of a headache for the Audi team when it couldn’t be filled completely during a stop. Consequently, André Lotterer had to achieve a sufficient lead for an additional refueling stop in the final phase--in extremely difficult conditions in drizzling rain at times which made the track extremely slippery.
In the end, the number 2 Audi R18 TDI crossed the finish line after 24 hours and a full 13.420 seconds after a second placed Peugeot.
In the GTE Pro class meanwhile, Corvette Racing, despite losing its leading number ‘74’ Corvette C6.R race car, managed to take class honors with its number ‘73’ car piloted by Olivier Beretta, Tommy MIlner, and Antonio Garcia.
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