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Audi: Great win ‘dampened’ by tragedy

24 June 2013

Audi claimed a second successive Le Mans 24 Hours victory with its e-Tron Quattro hybrid, extending the personal record of driver Tom Kristensen in the process, but admitted that its triumph had been overshadowed by the news of Allan Simonsen's death early in the race.

Kristensen, Loic Duval and Allan McNish upheld Audi honour after two of its three cars ran into problems early on, and enjoyed a largely trouble-free run to the end of the world's most famous endurance race, despite changes to the regulations - made at short notice – meaning that the R18 were able to do two fewer laps per tank of fuel than main rival Toyota.

The Audi drivers thus had to compensate for additional pit-stops by turning faster lap times on track, a feat they achieved despite weather conditions that were, at times, extremely difficult. Rain showers crossed the track again and again during the race, resulting in numerous incidents and a total of eleven safety cars as the field spent more than five hours 'under yellow' while the track was cleared and repairs were performed.

“We knew that, not least due to the regulatory requirements, it would be very difficult for us this year,” the head of Audi Motorsport, Dr Wolfgang Ullrich, commented, “As expected, Toyota was a very strong rival, but our Audi R18 e-tron quattro was in a class of its own. My thanks go to the entire team that worked for months to achieve this success.”

The twelfth Audi victory at Le Mans was achieved by the #2 entry, which ran for the entire 24 hours without the slightest technical problem. The Duval/Kristensen/McNish line-up took the lead at 2143hrs on Saturday night and did not relinquish the advantage once before crossing the finish line at 1500hrs on Sunday, having opened a crucial one-lap advantage over the second-placed Toyota at an early stage.

“This was the craziest Le Mans we've ever experienced in terms of the weather and the safety car periods,” Audi Sport Team Joest technical director Ralf Juttner claimed, “You never knew what the deal was, but it was an incredible thrilling race all the way to the end.

“We had an absolutely flawless car and that was enough to beat Toyota. We knew before the race that, to beat such an opponent, everything had to fit. With our #2 car, this was the case.

“Congratulations to Tom on his ninth victory and to Allan on his third success at Le Mans. I'm also happy about Loic being able to celebrate his first victory here. This evokes unique emotions.”

Juttner thanked the entire Audi operation for its contribution to the success, remarking that the problems encountered by the #1 and #3 entries underlined just how much good fortune plays a part in victory, as well as praising Toyota for its opposition.

Sadly, the triumph was overshadowed by the death, in the first hour of the race, of GT competitor Allan Simonsen. Kristensen, as a fellow Dane, was quick to dedicate his ninth success at La Sarthe to his fallen compatriot, while Ullrich reflected on the impact of the tragedy.

“Obviously, this horrible incident dampens the joy of another great Le Mans victory for Audi,” he concluded, “We were all completely shocked by the news of Allan Simonsen's death [especially as], during his career, he also contested races in the Audi R8 LMS.

“Our sympathy primarily goes to his family and friends, but to the team of Aston Martin as well. It shows that you must never stop doing whatever is possible for safety in motorsport. This is the first fatal accident we've had to witness in 15 Le Mans years. I hope it'll remain the last.”


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