Grueling. That’s what a 24-hour race contest is. The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the world’s oldest active sports car race in endurance racing, held annually since 1923 near the town of Le Mans, France, and is considered to be one of the most prestigious automobile races in the world. Race teams have to balance speed against the cars’ ability to run for 24 hours without sustaining mechanical damage to the car and manage the cars’ consumables, primarily fuel, tires and braking materials.
Audi is now just three Le Mans victories away from tying Porsche in the record books at Circuit de la Sarthe. For the 13th time in the last 15 years, Audi claimed overall victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It was a one-two finish for the R18 e-tron racers, with Benoit Treluyer, Marcel Fassler and Andre Lotterer’s No.2 car leading the sister No. 1 ride of Tom Kristensen, Lucas di Grassi and Marc Gene.
The race’s early going was marred by rain, chaos, and shunts—most notably an incident involving the No. 8 Toyota TS040 of Nicolas Lapierre, which spun, collecting both Marco Bonanomi’s No. 3 Audi R18 and Sam Bird’s No. 81 AF Corse Ferrari 458. As Le Mans continued past the halfway mark, it was the Toyota hybrids putting down laps in the 3:25 and 3:22 range—roughly 2 seconds quicker than the rival Audis—and dominating the race. Just before sunrise, though, catastrophe struck when overall leader Kazuki Nakajima’s No. 7 Toyota slowed near Arnage and subsequently retired due to electrical failure. And THAT is how you win – not by being the fastest, but by being all things in this race and surviving. Kudos to Audi!