Audi once again achieved a podium result at this years 24-hour race at Le Mans but missed out on the 14th victory it was aiming for, taking positions three, four and seven. Porsche were victorious, earning positions one and two.
Audi's performance still remains impressive. In all 17 Le Mans races Audi has been part of, at least one Audi team has been on the podium and this time it was last year's winners Andrew Lotterer (D), Marcel Fassler (CH) and Benoit Treluyer (F). In their Audi R18 e-tron quattro they achieved a new track record in the race with a lap time of 3m 17.475s.
"That was motorsport at the very highest level. The spectators witnessed a tremendous endurance race in which the two Group sisters, Audi and Porsche, fought the expected fierce and thrilling duel for victory," said Chairman of the Board of Management at Audi AG, Prof. Rupert Stadler. He was one of the first people to extend congratulations to Porsche once the chequered flag fell. "We can only congratulate our colleagues from Stuttgart on this success because we know exactly how difficult it is to win this race."
He continued "I found it particularly impressive that Audi and Porsche with two completely different concepts of hybrid cars were practically driving on the same level throughout the entire race."
During the race the lead kept changing between Audi and Porsche before deciding factors occured on Sunday morning. All three Audi R18 e-tron quattro cars were fast but encountered a few problems along the way. Lotterer, Fassler and Treluyer experienced an early puncture and, when battling for victory, a large section of the engine roof came adrift shortly before 7.00 and caused damage to the car. The repair was completed in 6.56 minutes, but the two laps lost could not be recovered.
Lucas di Grassi (BR), Loic Duval (F) and Oliver Jarvis (GB) also lost their chance for victory due to an unfortunate accident. In the 'Indianapolis' section of the track shortly before the end of the third hour, Duval hit the guard rails when avoiding several slower vehicles and was touched on the rear by a GTE car. A mere four minute repair caused amazement amongst observers and in the end di Grassi/Duval/Jarvis achieved fourth place.
The R18 e-tron quattro driven by Filipe Albuquerque (P), Marco Bonanomi (I) and Rene Rast (D) seemed to have the best chance for victory but encountered issues with the hybrid system causing them to drop behind the two best Porsche cars on Sunday morning. As a result of the issues the front left drive shaft had to be replaced three hours before the end of the race, a repair that took 17 minutes and sealed seventh place for the team.
Head of Audi Motorsport, Dr Wolfgang Ullrich believed that the Audi R18 e-tron quattro was absolutely competitive but could not afford the accidents, especially against a strong rival like Porsche. He continued "Obviously, we're disappointed but in sports you've got to accept defeats as well. It simply wasn't our race. My thanks go to all who have worked extremely hard in the past months and here at Le Mans as well."
In the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), Lotterer/Fassler/Treluyer have defended the lead of the driver's standings. The first chance for Le Mans revenge will be provided in the German WEC round at the Nurburgring on August 30.