Audi Wins Le Mans For The 13th Time
Audi prevailed at Le Mans once again this weekend, after a tough race against its main LMP1 class competitors — event returnee Porsche, and polesitter and favorite Toyota. Audi took the checkered flag in first and second, with the No. 2 car driven by Fassler, Lotterer and Treluyer having completed 379 laps. This is Audi’s 13th success in Le Mans history, all of which were obtained the past 15 years.
The winning crew took the lead for the first time Sunday morning, shorty after 5 a.m. The No. 2 R18 e-tron quattro had been chasing the leading Toyota TS040 Hybrid throughout the night, with Porsche charging in for some captivating duels. The three-way fight went on to provide one of the most fascinating races in recent Le Mans history until the 22nd hour, when technical difficulties forced Mark Webber’s Porsche 919 Hybrid to spend nearly an hour and a half in the pits.
Click past the jump to read more about Audi’s triumph at 2014 Le Mans.
The winning Audi R18 e-tron quattro was followed at the finish line by the No. 1 car driven by Di Grassi, Gene and Kristensen. The same vehicle that suffered a horrific crash in the practice session completed 376 laps, three less than than the No. 2 winner. In third position arrived the Toyota driven by Davidson, Lapierre and Buemi. The No. 8 racer took the flag five laps behind the winner. Webber’s Porsche 919 Hybrid returned to the track to cross the finish line with 348 laps on the clock, behind several LMP2 and LM GTE racers.
Audi celebrated its fifth consecutive win at the Circuit de la Sarthe and its 13th overall win in 15 years. The Germans only failed to win the event in 2003 and 2009, when Bentley and Peugeot were crowned champions. However, it’s widely known that the Bentley Speed 8 that triumphed in 2003 was nothing more than a rebodied Audi, which raises the actual tally to 14.
Why It Matters
Audi reaffirms its position as the dominant manufacturer at Le Mans in the 21st century. Although it remains the second most successful company as far as overall wins go, Audi’s performance at the Circuit de la Sarthe the past 15 years surpasses Porsche’s winning streak from the 1970s and 1980s. No other automaker has managed to score 13 triumph in less than two decades and that won’t happen anytime soon.
Updated ahead of the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship, the successful R18 e-tron quattro has received further upgrades before the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Enhancements included new fenders with openings on the inside, a slightly longer body, and a revised exhaust configuration with the tail pipes located above the diffuser. These modifications were meant to make the R18 e-tron quattro capable of higher speeds at the Circuit de la Sarthe and proved decisive for the outcome of the race. The 2014 model is the fourth iteration of the R18. The race car has four Le Mans and the two World Endurance Championship titles to its name.