Hybrid Audi makes motorsport history at Le Mans
The Audi R18 e-tron quattro of Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoît Tréluyer finished a lap ahead of the second Audi hybrid.
The third podium spot was claimed by a diesel Audi and the fourth team car finished fifth.
It was the second successive year that the driver team of Fässler, Lotterer and Tréluyer had won the race, and in the process they fought off a strong challenge from the other hybrid debutants of Toyota and their own team-mates Dindo Capello, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish.
The two diesel hybrid Audis swapped the lead several times throughout the race and only an accident by McNish in the fast Porsche corners less than three hours before the finish swung the race in his team-mates’ favour.
The Audi team managed to repair the heavy damage at the front of the car in record time but while runner-up spot was saved, the car lost a crucial lap.
The two Toyotas also fought for the lead but one crashed with a Ferrari and flipped out of the race with less than six hours down, driver Anthony Davidson breaking bones in his back in the process.
The second Toyota was badly delayed after colliding with the novel Nissan-powered Deltawing car, and was then retired before half distance with engine failure.
After his four Audi R18 cars had crossed the finish line Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich described the race as of the kind one could arguably experience only at Le Mans.
“You should never rejoice too early at Le Mans, which was obvious again especially on Sunday noon,” Ullrich said.
“The whole world was already talking about a one-two-three-four victory and all of a sudden two of our cars had accidents almost simultaneously. That the squad repeatedly managed to repair the cars so quickly after the slips clearly speaks for Audi Sport Team Joest that can simply be banked on at Le Mans.
“The fact that, as in 2001 with the TFSI engine and in 2006 with the TDI, we managed to be successful right on the first run simply proves the level of technological expertise that is available at Audi. This is a great day for Audi Sport, for Audi and for the e-tron quattro.”
Words by: Andrew Charman