Hour 24: Audi wins Le Mans

Battle for the lead

Hour 24: Audi wins Le Mans

The finish, when it came, was as businesslike, understated and dignified as the previous 24 hours had been - it was also somewhat over-shadowed by the bizarre spectacle of the number 81 Porsche GT3R, second in the GT category, completing a full lap with the bonnet blown open and the driver Fabio Babini tanking it back to the pits with his head sticking out of the open door.
Even the final stops had been strangely low-key: a splash of fuel, a cursory wipe, but no frenetic spit and polish. With a couple of laps to cruise until 4 o'clock, Allan McNish tucked his second-placed R8 in behind Emanuele Pirro's soon-to-be winning machine, and Christian Abt had soon latched on too, but that was the nearest the Joest-run operation had got to flamboyance all week - that and a few hundred banners on the pit wall.

Audi had approached their task with a simplicity of purpose missing from many other big bucks manufacturer campaigns - the celebrating could come later, just get the job done.

But even as the cars had got within coasting distance of 4 o'clock Frank Biela was still talking it all down: "If we could finish first, it would be a dream come true," he dead-panned, "but it's still not over yet. Even in the last five minutes, something could happen, but I'm pretty sure it's looking good."

Five minutes later, with 368 laps completed and the trio of Audis barely selecting crawling pace as they crossed the line, Biela allowed himself a smile - maybe even two. Audi hadn't won the 68th Le Mans 24 Hours it had totally and utterly dominated it in a way that only Ford, Porsche and Peugeot had managed before - a crushing, ruthlessly efficient one-two-three.

With Joest Racing's past record of back-to-backing, would the Audi R8s be back next year? Audi had been coy, talking of decisions in the autumn, but what about the ever-decisive Reinhold Joest?

"Absolutely!"

Watch this space...


No surprises, but just for the record: Beretta/Wendlinger/Dupuy's ORECA Viper took GTS honours; Muller/Luhr/Wollek and Dick Barbour Racing steam-rollered the GT class, and the Multimatic Lola-Nissan B2k/40 of Maxwell/Graham/Wilkins survived to take the LMP 675 category.


Pos No Drivers Car Class Laps/Time
8, F Biela, T Kristensen, E Pirro, Audi R8 (900), 368 laps
9, L Aiello, A McNish, S Ortelli, Audi R8 (900), +1 lap
7, M Alboreto, C Abt, R Capello, Audi R8 (900), +3 laps
16, S Bourdais, O Grouillard, E Clerico, C Peugeot (900), +24 laps
12, H Katoh, J O'Connell, P H Raphanel, Panoz Spyder LMP (900), +26 laps
23, T Suzuki, M Kageyama, M Kageyama, Panoz Spyder LMP (900), +28 laps
51, O Beretta, K Wendlinger, D Dupuy, Oreca Viper (GTS), +35 laps
22, K Tsuchiya, M Kondo, A Iida, Panoz Spyder LMP (900), +38 laps
53, D Donohue, N Amorim, A Beltoise, Dodge Viper (GTS), +40 laps
, 64, A Pilgrim, K Collins, F Freon, Corvette (GTS), +41 laps


Class No Driver Car Time
900 9, A McNish Audi R8 3:37.359


Class No Drivers Car Class Time
32, S Maxwell, J Graham, G Wilkins, Lola Nissan 2K/40, +94 laps
51, O Beretta, K Wendlinger, D Dupuy, Oreca Viper, +35 laps
83, D Muller, L Luhr, B Wollek, Porsche GT3R, +49 laps


No Drivers Car Laps Reason
4, M Goossens, C Tinseau, K Kolby, DAM'S Cadillac LMP (900), fire - 5 laps
5, Y Dalmas, N Minassian, J P Belloc, ORECA Reynard-Mopar 2KQ (900), oil pressure - 1 lap
20, J Lammers, P Kox, T Coronel, Konrad Lola B2K/10 (900), retired, 38 laps
33, J D Deletraz, R Kelleners, D Terrien, ROC VW (675), engine, 44 laps
77, C Bouchut, J Chereau, P Gouselard, Porsche GT3-R, accident, 34 laps
34, J-C Boullion, J Gene, G Policand, Reynard Volkswagen (675), engine, 72 laps
24, S Johansson, J Matthews, G Smith, Reynard Judd 2KQ, engine, 126 laps
21, M Schiattarella, D de Radigues, E Naspetti, Lola Judd B2K/10, stopped, 154 laps
54, G Martinolle, J C Lagnez, B Derichebourg, Dodge Viper, engine, 180 laps
56, M Hezemans, D Hart, N Hugenholz, Dodge Viper, accident, 210 laps
17, P Gache, G Formato, D Cottaz, Courage Peugeot, engine, 219 laps

For a full list of race results click here.


shares
comments
Hour 24: Audi wins Le Mans

Previous article

Hour 24: Audi wins Le Mans

Next article

Audi to quit Le Mans on a high?

Audi to quit Le Mans on a high?
Load comments
The unwanted GT car that changed sportscar racing forever Plus

The unwanted GT car that changed sportscar racing forever

Had FIA GT boss Stephane Ratel had his way, the Maserati MC12 would never have been allowed to set foot in his series. It duly proved the class of the field that most had expected, but the Balance of Performance that its superiority spawned would keep GT1 battles tight and bring long-term benefits that sportscar racing enjoys today

GT
Sep 21, 2021
Why Britain's greatest sportscar was eclipsed on the world stage Plus

Why Britain's greatest sportscar was eclipsed on the world stage

The E-Type may be the most famous of all road-going Jaguars, but that didn't always translate into success on the track. After winning on its competition debut in 1961, motorsport success seemed an inevitability, but things didn’t turn out to be quite that straightforward

GT
Aug 6, 2021
Why the Jaguar E-type remains special at 60 Plus

Why the Jaguar E-type remains special at 60

It’s 60 years since the Jaguar E-type arrived and caused a sensation. As our resident racer Ben Anderson discovered when he got behind the wheel of two special racing versions at Brands Hatch, the thrill of driving them hasn't diminished over time

GT
Jul 31, 2021
The rise of a GT squad responsible for a unique 24-hour racing feat Plus

The rise of a GT squad responsible for a unique 24-hour racing feat

It's a significant achievement to win one 24-hour race in a year, let alone two, and with different manufacturers, but that's exactly what ROWE Racing did in 2020 at the Nurburgring and Spa. This weekend's German classic offers the DTM newcomer a chance of another unique double to add to its growing collection of accolades

GT
Jun 3, 2021
The new threat facing motorsport's greatest success story Plus

The new threat facing motorsport's greatest success story

The manufacturers were unconvinced – and even hostile – when Stephane Ratel launched GT3 in 2006. Now, 15 years on from its debut, they’ve sold more than 2000 cars and counting, but its continued expansion puts the increasingly globalised category at risk of losing its roots

GT
May 25, 2021
The Lamborghini teams plotting to stop a RAM raid on British GT Plus

The Lamborghini teams plotting to stop a RAM raid on British GT

With the Silver pairings that dominated 2020 now banned, Mercedes pair Yelmer Buurman and Ian Loggie could be in the box seat after winning last year's Pro-Am crown. But a swarm of Lamborghinis, with the defending outright champion among them, will ensure they face tough opposition

GT
May 21, 2021
How McLaren’s GT3 ‘single-seater’ defies expectations Plus

How McLaren’s GT3 ‘single-seater’ defies expectations

Time in a thoroughbred racer leaves you searching for time in yourself, especially when the rewards for total commitment are so high, as our man discovered at Snetterton

GT
Apr 28, 2021
How Ferrari's F1 protege became a Mercedes GT prodigy Plus

How Ferrari's F1 protege became a Mercedes GT prodigy

Raffaele Marciello once appeared to be Ferrari’s next Italian F1 star, but is now under the pay of its German arch-rival in GTs – and he’s very happy with his life

GT
Apr 8, 2021