Le Mans 24 Hours: Audi claims one-two after dramatic race
|Sunday, June 15th 2014, 13:04 GMT|
Audi took a one-two finish in a dramatic Le Mans 24 Hours where all seven factory LMP1 cars hit trouble at various times.
Benoit Treluyer, Marcel Fassler and Andre Lotterer led home the sister car of Tom Kristensen, Lucas di Grassi and Marc Gene, as Audi won a battle of attrition against Toyota and Porsche for overall honours.
Both leading Audis suffered turbo dramas on Sunday morning, which handed Porsche's #20 car of Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard an opportunity to fight for victory, putting the 919 Hybrid into the lead with just three hours to go.
But the #20 car was no match for the pace of a recovering Lotterer in the #2 Audi, and the R18 e-tron quattro had already taken the lead when Webber slowed from second towards the end of the 22nd hour.
The Porsche's problems allowed the #1 Audi, in which Kristensen had appeared to be en route to a 10th Le Mans as the race passed the 20 hour mark before requiring a turbo change, to recover to second place, three laps down.
The #8 Toyota crew of Anthony Davidson, Nicolas Lapierre and Sebastien Buemi salvaged an unlikely podium finish once both Porsches (#14 stopping late-on with a gearbox problem, but rejoining to take the chequered flag) were forced into the garage, but that was scant reward for a race that the Japanese manufacturer controlled for more than half of its duration.
While the #8 car was ruled out of contention for victory when Lapierre crashed heavily during a rain storm early on (an incident that also accounted for the retirement of the third Audi with Marco Bonanomi at the wheel), the polesitting #7 car was seemingly unassailable out front.
The #2 Audi put up a fight to the leading Toyota during the night, but the gap was always above one minute.
Nakajima, having taken over from Stephane Sarrazin, was extending the lead early into his stint when the TS040 HYBRID stopped on track with an electrical problem - robbing Toyota of the victory it desperately craved.
JOTA WINS HARD-FOUGHT LMP2 BATTLE
Jota Sport won a closely-fought LMP2 category with its Zytek-Nissan Z11SN.
Harry Tincknell, sharing with Simon Dolan and Oliver Turvey, had led the class early on after passing the polesitting #46 TDS Ligier but the car fell down the class order during the rain-induced early chaos.
But as the race progressed, it recovered and with Turvey at the wheel, jumped the Ligier at the penultimate pitstop.
Tristan Gommendy had led LMP2 heading into the final hour, but TDS had to pit for new tyres and a driver change at its penultimate stop having earlier lost time in the 21st hour with a puncture and resulting suspension damage.
When Turvey made his stop, he did not have to take tyres and continued in the car, emerging just ahead of the Ligier now driven by Ludovic Badey.
Although Badey had a tyre advantage, Turvey pulled away and never looked like losing victory.
The #36 Signatech Alpine ORECA of Nelson Panciatici, Paul-Loup Chatin and Oliver Webb finished third and spent time in the class lead, but lost time after suffering a front-left upright failure.
But the G-Drive-branded, OAK Racing-run #35 Ligier was the star turn in LMP2, leading the race and building up a comfortable lead before losing time first with a broken rear brake disc and then a loss of power.
The car, driven by Alex Brundle, Jann Mardenborough and Mark Shultzhitskiy, had salvaged fourth place but a late puncture meant it dropped to fifth behind the #24 Sebastien Loeb Racing ORECA.
The #47 KCMG ORECA climbed from seventh on the grid to lead during the first stint in the hands of Alexandre Imperatori.
After losing time with an off during the early-race rain when Richard Bradley aquaplaned off and hit a stack of tyres, the car crashed on the run out of the Porsche Curves as a result of a driveshaft failure.
The #48 Murphy Prototypes ORECA also showed strongly, but Karun Chandok aquaplaned off on the Mulsanne Straight in the rain and was collected by the #41 Greaves Zytek and later retired from the race with a steering problem.
FERRARI TAKES GTE VICTORY
The AF Corse Ferrari of Giancarlo Fisichella, Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander took a comfortable victory in the GTE category, after its early rivals faltered.
Bruni, who had qualified the 458 Italia on pole, crossed the line two laps clear of the leading Corvette C7.R, which overcame a safety car delay and a broken air jack in the pits to defeat the leading Manthey Porsche in the fight for second.
Frederic Makowiecki held the place in the closing stages in the #92 911 RSR he shared with Marco Holzer and Richard Lietz, but was delayed in his penultimate pitstop and dropped behind the Antonio Garcia/Jan Magnussen/Jordan Taylor #73 C7.R.
The sister Corvette finished fourth, frustrated after its early challenge for the lead in the hands of Oliver Gavin, Richard Westbrook and Tommy Milner was derailed by overnight alternator issues.
A power steering hose issue helped consign the long-time race leading Vantage of Darren Turner, Stefan Mucke and Bruno Senna to 19th overall in GTE, 27 laps down on the winning Ferrari, but AMR's #95 car claimed the spoils in GTE Am.
Aston had looked set for a one-two in the Pro-Am division, with Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Christoffer Nygaard making the early running in the #98 car.
When their car was hit by the same power-steering issues that afflicted the Pro entry, the #95 car - which comprised Kristian Poulsen, David Heinemeier-Hansson and Nicki Thiim - moved ahead, surviving a late power issue and brief spell in the garage to comfortably defeat the #88 Proton Competition Porsche and #61 AF Ferrari.
Results - 379 laps: Pos Cl Drivers Team/Car Time/Gap 1. P1 Fassler/Lotterer/Treluyer Audi 24h01m59.830s 2. P1 Di Grassi/Gene/Kristensen Audi -3 laps 3. P1 Davidson/Lapierre/Buemi Toyota -5 laps 4. P1 Prost/Heidfeld/Beche Rebellion-Toyota -19 laps 5. P2 Dolan/Tincknell/Turvey Jota Zytek-Nissan -23 laps 6. P2 Thiriet/Badey/Gommendy TDS Ligier-Nissan -24 laps 7. P2 Chatin/Panciatici/Webb Signatech ORECA-Nissan -24 laps 8. P2 Rast/Charouz/Capillaire Loeb ORECA-Nissan -25 laps 9. P2 Brundle/Mardenborough/S'skiy OAK Ligier-Nissan -25 laps 10. P2 Klien/Hirsch/Brandela Morand Morgan-Judd -27 laps 11. P2 Cheng/Tung/Fong OAK Ligier-HPD -32 laps 12. P2 Frey/Mailleux/Lancaster Race Perf ORECA-Judd -37 laps 13. GTE P Bruni/Vilander/Fisichella AF Ferrari -40 laps 14. GTE P Magnussen/Garcia/Taylor Corvette -41 laps 15. GTE P Holzer/Makowiecki/Lietz Manthey Porsche -42 laps 16. P2 Schell/Leutwiler/Roussel Pegasus Morgan-Nissan -43 laps 17. GTE A Poulsen/Hansson/Thiim Aston Martin -45 laps 18. GTE P Gavin/Milner/Westbrook Corvette -46 laps 19. GTE A Ried/Bachler/Al Qubaisi Proton Porsche -47 laps 20. GTE A Perez-Companc/Cioci/Venturi AF Ferrari -48 laps 21. GTE A Montecalvo/Roda/Ruberti 8Star Ferrari -49 laps 22. GTE A Dempsey/Foster/Long Dempsey Porsche -50 laps 23. P2 Kimber-Smith/McMurry/Dyson Greaves Zytek-Nissan -50 laps 24. GTE A Dalla Lana/Lamy/Nygaard Aston Martin -50 laps 25. GTE A Al Faisal/Neiman/Pumpelly JMW Ferrari -52 laps 26. GTE A Nakano/Ehret/Rich Taisan Ferrari -52 laps 27. GTE A Barthez/Pons/Ayari Sofrev Ferrari -54 laps 28. GTE A Krohn/Jonsson/Collins Krohn Ferrari -55 laps 29. GTE A Narac/Armindo/Hallyday Imsa Porsche -56 laps 30. GTE A Mowlem/Patterson/Hamilton Ram Ferrari -60 laps 31. GTE P MacNeil/Bleekemolen Prospeed Porsche -60 laps 32. GTE A Maris/Merlin/Helary Imsa Porsche -62 laps 33. GTE P Turner/Mucke/Senna Aston Martin -69 laps 34. GTE P Pilet/Bergmeister/Tandy Manthey Porsche -70 laps 35. P2 Zlobin/Salo/Ladygin SMP ORECA-Nissan -76 laps 36. GTE A Mallegol/Bachelier/Blank AF Ferrari -84 laps Not classified: P1 Dumas/Jani/Lieb Porsche 348 laps P1 Bernhard/Webber/Hartley Porsche 346 laps P2 Ragues/Taylor/Ihara Larbre Morgan-Judd 341 laps Retirements: P1 Wurz/Sarrazin/Nakajima Toyota 219 laps GTE A Bertolini/Shaitar/Basov SMP Ferrari 196 laps GTE A Perrodo/Collard/Palttala Prospeed Porsche 194 laps GTE P Griffin/Parente/Leo Ram Ferrari 140 laps P2 Rusinov/Pla/Canal OAK Morgan-Nissan 120 laps GTE A Mann/Case/Giammaria AF Ferrari 115 laps P2 Howson/Bradley/Imperatori KCMG ORECA-Nissan 87 laps P1 Kraihamer/Belicchi/Leimer Rebellion-Toyota 73 laps P2 Berthon/Gonzalez/Chandhok Murphy ORECA-Nissan 73 laps P2 Munemman/Latif/Winslow Greaves Zytek-Nissan 31 laps GTE P Rigon/Kaffer/Beretta AF Ferrari 28 laps P1 Albuquerque/Bonanomi/Jarvis Audi 25 laps GTE A Wyatt/Rugolo/Bird AF Ferrari 22 laps P2 Ladygin/Minassian/Mediani SMP ORECA-Nissan 9 laps C Ordonez/Reip/Motoyama Nissan ZEOD 5 laps