The No.2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro, driven by Benoît Tréluyer, Marcel Fässler and André Lotterer has won the coveted 24 Hours of Le Mans after a fierce battle with the challenging Toyotas and Porsches in the LMP1 category.
Audi’s No.1 car managed an exceptional 2nd place too after suffering a major accident in qualifying whereby the car had to be completely rebuilt within the space of an evening/night before continuing the next day. A true credit to the mechanics who were able to sort the car out and attain a race speed for a full 24 hours shortly after the crash. The experimental No.3 Audi retired after having completed a mere 25 laps.
Dogged by problems, Toyota were unfortunate once again in not being able to bring home a Le Mans title despite starting in pole position, keeping Mazda as the only Japanese manufacturer in history to have ever won the famed 24 hour event.
In third place was the disheartened Toyota No.8 driven by Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi and Nicolas Lapierre. Their result was, of course, not what they might have hoped for but does at least maintain their position at the top of the World Endurance Championship (WEC) leaderboard. The car suffered accident damage after one of the two heavy rainstorms during the event. The other Toyota No.7 finished in an overall 40th position having completed just 219 laps before retiring.
As for the Porsche team with their two 919 Hybrids, they got off to a good start and even led the race for several hours before an engine problem toward the end of the event put the car into retirement. The 2nd Porsche suffered gearbox troubles which were eventually rectified after long garage repairs and the car did finally reappear to take the chequered flag but finished in 11th.
As for other Le Mans news, Nissan’s quirky yet exciting ZEOD RC race car successfully completed an all electric lap of Le Mans and even reached the highest speed ever attained under electric power at the French circuit – a whopping 186mph. However, the race was not quite so successful with the car completing just five laps before retiring due to a gearbox problem. As Nissan were quick to point out though, the car’s ‘new technology’ had worked flawlessly, it was only ‘old technology’ that had caused an issue. The gearbox is perhaps the most conventional component within the whole car, mated to a tiny but powerful three cylinder engine producing 400bhp that enabled the car to complete the race distance as under electric power only, the car was able to complete just 1 in 12 laps. Either way, it is an exciting look at what the future for electric cars may hold and reintroduces Nissan to Le Mans ahead of their 2015 comeback in their hybrid GT-R LM NISMO LMP1 race car.
Source; FIA WEC Le Mans results