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Audi Overall Winner At Tragic 2013 Le Mans 24

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, June 23 2013

Audi produced another Le Mans winner on Sunday. (File photo)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

Tom Kristensen provided Danish racing fans at least a small bit of joy Sunday when he won his record-padding ninth Le Mans 24 Hours championship.

Kristensen, driving the final stint of the race in the No. 2 Audi Sport Team Joest entry, crossed the finish line at the famed Circuit de la Sarthe for the final time just over 24 hours after fellow Danish driver Allan Simonsen was involved in a fatal wreck at the Tertre Rouge section of the course.

“This one is for Allan Simonsen,” Kristensen told Eurosport television. “A fantastic driver. This is for him.”

Sharing the wheel with Kristensen in the race-winning Audi R18 E-tron Quattro diesel hybrid was Allan McNish of Scotland and Loic Duval of France. The victory was the third overall for McNish and the first for Duval.

“Three’s a much nicer number than two, especially when it’s at Le Mans,” McNish told reporters.

Finishing second in the LMP1 class was the No. 8 Toyota TS 030 Hybrid driven by Sebastien Buemi. That car was co-driven by Anthony Davidson and Stephane Sarrazin.

Davidson also paid tribute to Simonsen.

“It’s very hard, especially with what happened to me last year, to fight my own demons and carry on driving,” he said. “It’s sad, sad news and it puts everything into perspective.”

Prior to coming to GRAND-AM this season, Sarrazin had made 19 American Le Mans Series starts. In the 24 Hours of Le Mans, he previously had three podium finishes as a factory Peugeot driver in LMP1 (2007, 2009, 2011). He also had three consecutive overall poles at Le Mans between 2007-2009.

“We made all the right changes during the race,” said Sarrazin. “And we made no mistakes on the track. But, we need a little luck, as well.

“This was a great result for Toyota and already, we are very encouraged for next year at Le Mans. We need to find a little more speed but now, we have very good base to work from.”

Third was the No. 3 Audi R18.

In LMP2, the Racing Morgan-Nissans finished first and second. Behind the winner of the winning car when the race ended was Bertrand Baguette of Belgium. He shared seat with Martin Plowman of Great Britain and Ricardo Gonzalez of Mexico.

In the GTE Pro class, Porsche 911 RSRs of Porsche AG Team Manthey finished first and second. Richard Lietz was at the wheel of the winning car when it finished. His co-drivers were Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb.

And in the GTE Am class, the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of IMSA Performance Matmut was crowned champion. Jean Karl Vernay was piloting the winning car on the final stint. Second was the Ferrari 458 Italia of AF Corse.

Finishing fourth – just shy of the podium – in GTE Am was the all-American Porsche team of Dempsey/Del Piero Racing.

Actor/driver/co-owner Patrick Dempsey led GTE Am twice in the early Sunday morning hours. Dempsey, Joe Foster and Patrick Long – the sole all-American driver lineup at Le Mans this year – teamed for an impressive run in the No. 77 911 GT3.

“We were competitive the entire race,” said Dempsey. “This is really what you want to be. Patrick did a great job on his opening stint, Joe was incredible in what seemed like every session of his in the rain, and our Porsche from Proton Competition was perfectly prepared. It was just a great race, we came up just a little short on the podium, but we will reach that goal soon enough.”

Corvette Racing and the SRT Motorsports Vipers came to Le Mans gunning for a LM GTE Pro class showdown, not to mention a championship or podium finish. None of that materialized, with both teams hampered by abbreviated practice and qualifying sessions due to rain, accidents and safety barrier repairs. That combination continued into the event itself, making the always-tough puzzle presented by Le Mans a bit unsolvable. Adding to SRT’s challenges was the fact that this year was a Le Mans return after a 12-year hiatus.

Collectively, the two organizations’ driver lineup had an ALMS/GRAND-AM “all-star” feel. For Corvette: Antonio Garcia, Oliver Gavin, Jan Magnussen and Tommy Milner from the ALMS; and Jordan Taylor and Richard Westbrook from GRAND-AM. For SRT: Jonathan Bomarito, Marc Goossens, Dominik Farnbacher, Tommy Kendall and Kuno Wittmer of the ALMS; and one of GRAND-AM’s premier wheel men, Ryan Dalziel.

Which made Sunday’s results even harder to discern, challenges notwithstanding. Corvettes finished fourth and seventh in LM GTE Pro while the Vipers finished fifth and sixth in class.

“It’s definitely not been a typical Le Mans,” said Westbrook. “And sure, it’s frustrating, but it’s the same for everyone.”

Added Wittmer: “When we come back here again it’s going to be a different story, a totally different circus. It is so valuable to run here previously. You learn so much: temperature change, rain, everything. Everything plays into the effect of a car.”

Aside from the winning teams and drivers, the 90th Le Mans 24 will be remembered for the incident which claimed Simonson, a series of other dramatic wrecks and sudden rain storms which plagued the race for much of its duration and especially its final hours.

McNish called the race the most mentally tough he’s experience at Le Mans.

The fatal wreck, which saw the Danish driver slam into the armco barrier at high speed , occurred just three laps into the race.

Simonson was driving the GTE-Am pole-sitting No. 95 Aston Martin Racing Vantage V8 when it lost control at Tetre Rouge. He was attended to on the scene by doctors from the Automobile Club de l’Ouest and was transported to the circuit medical center where he died of his injuries.

The accident resulted in a safety car period of more than 1 hour to repair the barriers.

Complete Results

1. #2 Kristensen/Duval/McNish Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron quattro LMP1 348 laps

2. #8 Davidson/Buemi/Sarrazin Toyota Racing Toyota TS030 hybrid LMP1 347 laps

3. #3 Gene/Di Grassi/Jarvis Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron quattro LMP1 347 laps

4. #7 Wurz/Lapierre/Nakajima Toyota Racing Toyota TS030 hybrid LMP1 341 laps

5. #1 Lotterer/Fassler/Treluyer Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 e-tron quattro LMP1 338 laps

6. #21 Leventis/Watts/Kane Strakka Racing HPD ARX-03c LMP1 332 laps

7. #35 Baguette/Gonzalez/Plowman OAK Racing Morgan-Nissan LMP2 329 laps

8. #24 Pla/Heinemeier Hansson/Brundle OAK Racing Morgan-Nissan LMP2 328 laps

9. #26 Rusinov/Martin/Conway G-Drive Racing Oreca 03-Nissan LMP2 327 laps

10. #42 Mardenborough/Ordonez/Krumm Greaves Motorsport Zytek-Nissan LMP2 327 laps

11. #49 Companc/Kaffer/Minassian Pecom Racing Oreca 03-Nissan LMP2 325 laps

12. #43 Gachnang/Mailleux/Lombard Morand Racing Morgan-Judd LMP2 320 laps

13. #48 Hartley/Patterson/Chandhock Murphy Prototypes Oreca 03-Nissan LMP2 319 laps

14. #38 Dolan/Turvey/Luhr Jota Sport Zytek-Nissan LMP2 319 laps

15. #36 Paniatici/Ragues/Gommendy Signatech Alpine Alpine-Nissan LMP2 317 laps

16. #92 Lieb/Lietz/Dumas Porsche AG Team Manthey Porsche 911 RSR GTE-Pro 315 laps

17. #91 Bernhard/Pilet/Bergmeister Porsche AG Team Manthey Porsche 911 RSR GTE-Pro 315 laps

18. #97 Turner/Mucke/Dumbreck Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vantage V8 GTE-Pro 314 laps

19. #34 Frey/Niederhauser/Bleekemolen Race Performance Oreca 03-Judd LMP2 314 laps

20. #73 Garcia/Taylor/Magnussen Corvette Racing Corvette C6 ZR-1 GTE-Pro 312 laps

21. #71 Beretta/Kobayashi/Vilander AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia GTE-Pro 311 laps

22. #51 Bruni/Fisichella/Malucelli AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia GTE-Pro 311 laps

23. #74 Gavin/Milner/Westbrook Corvette Racing Corvette C6 ZR-1 GTE-Pro 309 laps

24. #41 Kimber-Smith/Lux/Rossi Greaves Motorsport Zytek Nissan LMP2 307 laps

25. #53 Farnbacher/Dalziel/Goossens SRT Motorsports Viper GTS-R GTE-Pro 306 laps

26. #76 Narac/Bourret/Vernay IMSA Performance MATMUT Porsche 911 GT3 RSR GTE-Am 306 laps

27. #55 Perazzini/Case/O’Young AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia GTE-Am 305 laps

28. #61 Gerber/Griffin/Cioci AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia GTE-Am 305 laps

29. #77 Dempsey/Foster/Long Dempsey Del Piero-Proton Porsche 911 GT3 RSR GTE-Am 305 laps

30. #50 Bornhauser/Canal/Taylor Larbre Competition Corvette C6 ZR-1 GTE-Am 302 laps

31. #96 Goethe/Hall/Campbell-Walter Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vantage V8 GTE-Am 301 laps

32. #93 Bomarito/Kendall/Wittmer SRT Motorsport Viper GTS-R GTE-Pro 301 laps

33. #40 Downs/Dagonneau/Younessi Boutsen Ginion Racing Oreca 03-Nissan LMP2 300 laps

34. #67 Gibon/Milesi/Henzler IMSA Performance MATMUT Porsche 911 GT3 RSR GTE-Am 300 laps

35. #66 Bertolini/Alfaisal/Qubaisi JMW Motorsport Ferrari 458 Italia GTE-Pro 300 laps

36. #88 Ried/Roda/Ruberti Proton Competition Porsche 911 GT3 RSR GTE-Am 300 laps

37. #75 Collard/Crubile/Perrodo Prospeed Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR GTE-Am 298 laps

38. #81 Potolicchio/Aguas/Bright 8 Star Motorsport Ferrari 458 Italia GTE-Am 294 laps

39. #39 Porta/Raffin/Brandela DKR Engineering Lola B11/40-Judd LMP2 280 laps

40. #12 Prost/Jani/Heidfeld Rebellion Racing Lola B12/60-Toyota LMP1 275 laps

41. #13 Belicchi/Beche/Cheng Rebellion Racing Lola B12/60-Toyota LMP1 275 laps

42. #70 MacNeil/Rodrigues/Dumas Larbre Competition Corvette C6 ZR-1 GTE-Am 268 laps

43. #33 Tucker/Franchitti/Briscoe Level 5 Motorsports HPD ARX-03b LMP2 242 laps

44. #46 Thiriet/Badey/Martin Thiriet by TDS Oreca 03-Nissan LMP2 310 laps

45. #99 Bell/Makowiecki/Senna Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vantage V8 GTE-Pro 248 laps

46. #45 Nicolet/Merlin/Mondolot OAK Racing Morgan-Nissan LMP2 246 laps

47. #47 Imperatori/Tung/Howson KCMG Morgan-Nissan LMP2 241 laps

48. #98 Auberlen/Dalla Lana/Lamy Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vantage V8 GTE-Pro 221 laps

49. #32 Holzer/Kraihamer/Charouz Lotus Lotus T128 LMP2 219 laps

50. #30 Mowlem/Hirschi/Burgess HVM Status GP Lola B12/80 Coupe-Judd LMP2 153 laps

51. #54 Mallegol/Bachelier/Blank AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia GTE-Am 147 laps

52. #57 Krohn/Jonsson/Mediani Krohn Racing Ferrari 458 Italia GTE-Am 111 laps

53. #25 Graves/Nakano/Hamilton Delta-ADR Oreca 03-Nissan LMP2 101 laps

54. #28 Giroix/ Haezebrouck/Ihara Gulf Racing Middle East Lola B12/80 Coupe-Nissan LMP2 22 laps

55. #31 Weeda/Rossiter/Bouchut Lotus Lotus T128 LMP2 17 laps

56. #95 Simonsen/Poulsen/Nygaard Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vantage V8 GTE-Am 2 laps

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, June 23 2013
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