After qualifying, when Audi only managed the 5th quickest time behind Toyota and Porsche, we cautioned against writing off the German giant too soon. Turns out we were right not to. 24 hours is a long time, and Audi proved to have the most luck and reliability in what became a day-long war of attrition. The result was the marque’s 13th top category Le Mans victory in 16 years – quite a record.
There must come a point where Audi starts to wonder just how many times it wants to win at Le Mans. Having all but dominated the event since the turn of the millennium, there surely has to be a moment where the Volkswagen Group board decides the brand should do something else. But, until that day, it almost seems inevitable that Audi Sport will take the top honours year in, year out.
Formation finish for first and second placed Audis
#2 kisses front of their steed
That isn’t to do a disservice to Audi; their professionalism, experience and sheer determination to win means you can never rule them out of contention. The race wasn’t without its difficulties for the German team. The #3 R18 e-tron quattro was ruled out early on in chaotic scenes, as torrential rain lashed down the Mulsanne straight. In addition, both #2 and #1 cars required replacement turbochargers to be fitted – no small task in itself. Oh, and there was the need for the #1 car to be rebuilt from scratch after Loïc Duval’s huge crash on Wednesday!
But, despite all that, Audi Sport brought home a 1-2 finish, with the #2 car of Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoît Tréluyer taking first, with Lucas di Grassi, Marc Gené and Tom Kristensen taking second in the rebuilt #1 car. 2014 was perhaps the most open race for sometime; it certainly wasn’t clear-cut Audi would win Until Porsche hit problems with only a couple of hours to go, did it became apparent they just might. But, as ever, there was always that feeling Audi would come through; and they did. Well done Ingolstadt.
#8 Toyota repaired after dramatic early Mulsanne crash to take third.
Early on it had looked like Toyota had the 2014 event already sewn up. The pace of the #7 TS040 HYBRID looked unstoppable for the vast majority of the race, showing the speed which has netted the team two wins in the World Endurance Championship already in 2014. (more…)