Audi scored its twelfth victory in 14 years at Le Mans with the #1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro of Tom Kristensen, Loïc Duval and Allan McNish. The trio had a trouble-free run and as always consistency and staying out of the pits were the keywords for a Le Mans victory.
After winning Le Mans twice the #1 Audi of Marcel Fässler, Benoit Tréluyer and André Lotterer ran out of luck in the 81th edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours. Beaten to the pole position by the sister-car of Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish and Loïc Duval the #1 and #2 cars started the race on equal points in the FIA World Endurance Championship, but alternator problems meant the Fässler, Tréluyer and Lotterer were never in a position to win Le Mans for the third time and they would finish 10 laps behind race winners Kristensen, Duval and McNish. The #1 Audi had no delays at all and almost cruised to victory after 24 hours, finishing the race one lap clear of the second placed Toyota of Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi and Stephane Sarrazin.
Toyota gave Audi a run for their money, but was unable to fight the race winning Audi until the end, partially helped by other cars making life of the Toyota drivers very difficult. Toyota’s second place finish was impressive given the fact that the 2013-spec Toyota had not raced for more than six hours. A double podium finish was possible, until Nicolas Lapierre binned the #7 Toyota in the final part of the race. Fortunately the French driver was able to re-join the race and the car finished fourth, behind the #3 Audi of Marc Gené, Lucas di Grassi and Oliver Jarvis. Unfortunately for the #3 trio they suffered a puncture early on in the race, otherwise they would have probably battled for the race win with the #1 car.
But in the end Tom Kristensen recorded his ninth Le Mans victory, Allan McNish won his third Le Mans and Loïc Duval finally won his first Le Mans.
Strakka Racing won the LMP1 Privateer class. The HPD ARX-03c of Nick Leventis, Danny Watts and Jonny Kane had no (major) problems during the race, unlike their rivals at Rebellion Racing. The two Anglo-Swiss Lola-Toyotas were favourites for the race, but both cars hit trouble and eventually finished 73 laps behind the winning Audi, 57 laps behind the Strakka Racing car. In the early stages of the race the Rebellion cars had put their noses in between the hybrids, but unfortunately for them it wasn’t their weekend – with the absolute low point Andrea Belicchi crashing his car and breaking his ribs.
(Images: Gerlach Delissen)