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Audi Again Up To Challenges, Wins 2014 Le Mans

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, June 15 2014

The Porsche 919 Hybrids were able to put pressure on Audi at Le Mans this weekend, but in the end, could not find the podium. (Photo courtesy of Porsche)

This was supposed to be the year that Audi’s domination of the 24 of Le Mans was to end. This was supposed to be the year that really fast Toyotas and Porsche’s return to the LMP1 class were going to upstage Audi.

Nope.

Even a sweeping new set of technical regulations couldn’t deprive the German marque of another Le Mans victory.

Audi, showing the solid performance and even more solid reliability it has developed over the past decade, won for the fifth straight time at Le Mans on Sunday. The victory was the 10th in the last 11 years. It was the 13th overall for Audi.

The winning Audi was the No. 2 Audi Sport Team Joest R18 E-Tron, driven at the end by Benoit Treluyer.

His co-drivers were Marcel Fassler and Andre Lotterer.

Finishing second, three laps back with Tom Kristensen driving the final stint, was the No. 1 factory Audi. Co-driving that car was Marc Gene, who was subbing for injured Loic Duval, and Lucas di Grassi

But earning the right to the top two steps on the podium did not come without challenge for the German car maker.

Toyota TS 040’s led major chunks of the race. And in the end, the No. 8 Toyota, with Anthony Davidson driving, finished third, though five laps back. Sebastien Buemi and Nicolas Lapierre co-drove car.

Pole-sitter Kazuki Nakajima’s Toyota No. 7 retired in the 15th hour because of an electrical problem.

“It is heartbreaking,” Nakajima said. “Somehow I thought maybe we could make it this time and then this happens. That’s Le Mans and that’s why we come here to take on the challenge. We will try again.”

Porsche, back after a 16-year absence in the LMP1 class, also showed strength in its return

The Le Mans-winning Audi R18.

to Le Mans. Porsche 919s also led portions of the race.

The No. 20 Porsche 919 Hybrid, being driven by former Formula One star Mark Webber, was sitting in second place and apparently headed to a podium finish when it lost power and limped to the paddocks.

There, it joined the second Porsche Team 919, which had also succumbed to a mechanical problem.

The Audis also had mechanical problems during the race. The winning car, for example, had turbocharger problems during the race.

“At one stage, we thought it was over,” Lotterer said.

But, in the end, not as many and not as serious as were Toyota’s and Porsche’s.

“Lot of ups and downs,” Fassler said after the win was secured.

This year, the  factory LMP1s cars were not only defined by power, but also fuel efficiency. Each car – every one a hybrid – was  limited to a specified fuel allocation.

Technical regulations also called for a weight reduction of 30 kilograms, narrower tubs, smaller 14-inch wide tires and a larger cockpit.

None of that mattered in the end as Audi ruled Le Mans once again.

In the LM GTE Pro class, the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia held off the No. 73 Corvette C7R to get the victory. Gianmaria Bruni was driving the Ferrari at the end. His co-drivers were Giancarlo Fisichella and Toni Vilander.

Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor co-drove the runner-up Corvette.

“It’s hard to be satisfied with second since it started so well for us a day ago,” Magnussen said. “We had the car to win but as so often happens in Le Mans, things get in the way. We had some small issues in the pits and quite often picked up the wrong safety car. Three times I was stuck right behind the safety car which means you lose at least one third of a lap. But everybody performed flawlessly – especially Antonio and Jordan – but also the crew and the engineers did a stellar job.”

The Porsche 911 RSR of Porsche Team Manthey finished third.

In LMP2, the JOTA Sport Zytek Z11SN Nissan got the class victory. Oliver Turvey was at the wheel in the final stint.

Kristian Poulsen, David Heinemeier Hansson and Nicki Thiim finished first in the GTE Am class at the wheel of Aston Martin No. 95. American actor Patrick Dempsey’s Porsche No. 77 placed fifth in the GTE Am category.

(This story will be updated shortly)

Unofficial finishing order at Le Mans:

1. Fassler/Lotterer/Treluyer GER Audi Sport Joest R18 e-tron 379 Laps LMP1

2. Kristensen/Gene/di Grassi GER Audi Sport Joest R18 e-tron 376 Laps LMP1

3. Davidson/Lapierre/Buemi JPN Toyota TS040 Hybrid 373 Laps LMP1

4. Prost/Heidfeld/Beche SUI Rebellion R-ONE Toyota 359 Laps LMP1

5. Dolan/Tincknell/Turvey GBR Jota Zytek Z11SN Nissan 355 Laps LMP2

6. Thiriet/Badey/Gommendy FRA Thiriet by TDS Ligier JS Nissan 355 Laps LMP2

7. Panciatici/Webb/Chatin FRA Signatech Alpine A450b Nissan 355 Laps LMP2

8. Rast/Charouz/Capillaire FRA Sebastien Loeb Oreca 03 Nissan 354 Laps LMP2

9. Brundle/Mardenborough/Shulzhitskiy FRA OAK Ligier JS Nissan 354 Laps LMP2

10. Klien/Hirsch/Brandela SUI Newblood Morand Morgan Judd 352 Laps LMP2

11. Cheng/Tung/Fong FRA OAK Asia Ligier JS Honda 347 Laps LMP2

12. Lancaster/Mailleux/Frey SUI Race Performance Oreca 03 Judd 342 Laps LMP2

13. Ragues/Taylor/Ihara FRA Larbre Morgan Judd 340 Laps LMP2

148. Bruni/Vilander/Fisichella ITA AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia 339 Laps GTE Pro

15. Magnussen/Garcia/Taylor USA Corvette Racing Chevrolet C7 R 338 Laps GTE Pro

16. Holzer/Makowiecki/Lietz GER Porsche Team Manthay 911 337 Laps GTE Pro

17. Schell/Leutwiler/Roussel GER Pegasus Morgan Nissan 336 Laps LMP2

18. Poulsen/Heinemeier/Thiim GBR Aston Martin Racing Vantage V8 334 Laps GTE Am

19. Gavin/Milner/Westbrook USA Corvette Racing Chevrolet C7 R 333 Laps GTE Pro

20. Ried/Bachler/Al Qubaisi GER Proton Porsche 911 GT3 RSR 332 Laps GTE Am

21. Perez/Cioci/Venturi ITA AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia 331 Laps GTE Am

22. Montecalvo/Roda/Ruberti USA 8 Star Ferrari F458 Italia 330 Laps GTE Am

23. Dempsey/Long/Foster GER Proton Porsche 911 GT3 RSR 329 Laps GTE Am

24. Kimber-Smith/McMurry/Dyson MAL Caterham Zytek Z11SN Nissan 329 Laps LMP2

25. Dalla Lana/Lamy/Nygaard GBR Aston Martin Racing Vantage V8 329 Laps GTE Am

26. Al-Faisal/Neiman/Pumpelly GBR JMW Ferrari F458 Italia 327 Laps GTE Am

27. Nakano/Ehret/Rich JPN Taisan Ferrari F458 Italia 327 Laps GTE Am

28. Barthez/Pons/Ayari FRA Sofrev ASP Ferrari F458 Italia 325 Laps GTE Am

29. Krohn/Jonsson/Collins USA Krohn Ferrari F458 Italia 324 Laps GTE Am

30. Narac/Armindo/Hallyday FRA IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche 911 GT3 RSR 323 Laps GTE Am

31. Mowlem/Patterson/Hamilton GBR Ram Racing Ferrari F458 Italia 319 Laps GTE Am

32. MacNeil/Curtis/Bleekemolen BEL Prospeed Porsche 911 GT3 RSR 319 GTE Am

33. Maris/Merlin/Helary FRA IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche 911 GT3 RSR 317 Laps GTE Am

34. Turner/Mucke/Senna GBR Aston Martin Racing Vantage V8 310 Laps GTE Pro

35. Pilet/Bergmeister/Tandy GER Porsche Team Manthay 911 309 Laps GTE Pro

36. Ladygin/Zlobin/Salo RUS SMP Oreca 03 Nissan 303 Laps LMP2

37. Mallegol/Bachelier/Blank ITA AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia 295 Laps GTE Am

Not Classified

38. Dumas/Jani/Lieb GER Porsche 919 Hybrid 348 Laps LMP1

39. Webber/Hartley/Bernhard GER Porsche 919 Hybrid 346 Laps LMP1

40. Wurz/Sarrazin/Nakajima JPN Toyota TS040 Hybrid 219 Laps LMP1

41. Bertolini/Shaitar/Basov RUS SMP Ferrari F458 Italia 196 Laps GTE Am

42. Palttala/Collard/Perrodo BEL Prospeed Porsche 911 GT3 RSR 194 Laps GTE Am

43. Parente/Griffin/Leo GBR Ram Racing Ferrari 458 Italia 140 Laps GTE Pro

44. Rusinov/Pla/Canal RUS G-Drive Morgan Nissan 120 Laps LMP2

45. Mann/Giammaria/Case ITA AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia 115 Laps GTE Am

46. Howson/Bradley/Imperatori HKG KCMG Oreca 03 Nissan 87 Laps LMP2

47. Berthon/Gonzalez/Chandhok IRL Murphy Oreca 03 Nissan 73 Laps LMP2

48. Leimer/Belicchi/Kraihamer SUI Rebellion Lola B/12 Toyota 73 Laps LMP1

49. Munemann/Latif/Winslow GBR Greaves Zytek Z11SN Nissan 31 Laps LMP2

50. Rigon/Kaffer/Beretta ITA AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia 28 Laps GTE Pro

51. Albuquerque/Bonanomi/Jarvis GER Audi Sport Joest R18 e-tron 25 Laps LMP1

52. Wyatt/Rugolo/Bird ITA AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia 22 Laps GTE Am

53. Minassian/Ladygin/Mediani RUS SMP Oreca 03 Nissan 9 Laps LMP2

54. Ordonez/Reip/Motoyama JPN Nissan Motorsports ZEOD RC 5 Laps Garage 56

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Sunday, June 15 2014
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