Audi take Le Mans victory but tragedy overshadows win
For the second time in succession, Audi has won the Le Mans 24 Hours with a hybrid race car and quattro drive. Victory was clinched by Loïc Duval (F), Tom Kristensen (DK) and Allan McNish (GB).
Audi’s twelfth triumph at Le Mans was one of the most difficult and hard-fought. Following a change in the regulations that was made at short notice, the three Audi R18 e-tron quattro cars on average were able to do two laps less on one tank filling than their main rival Toyota. The Audi drivers had to compensate for the additional pit stops by faster lap times on track – and did so in weather conditions that at times were extremely difficult.
Rain showers crossed the track again and again during the dramatic race. They resulted in numerous incidents and a total of eleven safety car deployments. The field ran for more than five hours under ‘yellow’ while the track was cleared and repairs were performed.
The three Audi R18 e-tron quattro cars, which are equipped with an electrically driven front axle, were the fastest vehicles in the field throughout the entire race – as well as the most efficient ones: Victory in the Michelin Green X Challenge, a competition of the cleanest, fastest and most efficient prototypes, went to Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm as well.
“We owe the twelfth victory of our brand at Le Mans to the consistent, innovative spirit of our engineers, the unconditional commitment of the entire team and the skills and strong nerves of our drivers. On behalf of Audi, I extend my sincere congratulations on this success to all of them,” said Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG, who watched the race on location.
“We knew that, not least due to the regulatory requirements, it would be very difficult for us this year,” commented Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “As expected, Toyota was a very strong rival – but our Audi R18 e-tron quattro was in a class of its own. My thanks go to the entire team that worked for months to achieve this success.”
The 90th anniversary of the Le Mans 24 Hours was overshadowed by a fatal accident that occurred in the GT class shortly after the race started. “Obviously, this horrible incident dampens the joy about another great Le Mans victory for Audi in which our team and our drivers were under extreme tension for 24 hours and couldn’t make any mistakes,” said Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich.
“We were all completely shocked by the news of Allan Simonsen’s death. During his career, he also contested races in the Audi R8 LMS. Our sympathy primarily goes to his family and friends but to the team of Aston Martin as well. It shows that you must never stop doing whatever is possible for safety in motorsport. This is the first fatal accident we’ve had to witness in 15 Le Mans years. I hope it’ll remain the last.”