15 June 2014
Le Mans 24 Hours: ‘Ups and downs’ but fortune favours Audi again
The #1 Audi survives technical dramas to deliver Audi its 13th Le Mans win and a third for drivers Lotterer, Treluyer and Fassler.
Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler have hailed the spirit of the entire Audi team as they led a remarkable 1-2 finish for the manufacturer in a thrilling and unpredictable Le Mans 24 Hours race.
Coming into the event arguably second-best to favourites Toyota, though Audi as expected proved its race pace was markedly better than it had suggested in practice and qualifying, it still had little answer to the leading #7 Toyota as it established a healthy lead at the half-way point.
However, its sudden exit from the race duly handed the lead to the #2 Audi, with the sister #1 running in second position as the manufacturer looked on course to stretch away from its remaining rival, the slower #20 Porsche.
Audi's race would be turned upside down with just four hours remaining though when the #2 car developed turbo problems, dropping it to third and seemingly out of victory contention, before the #1 machine suffered a similar fate.
These problems subsequently promoted the #20 Porsche into the lead with less than two hours remaining, albeit with the #2 Audi closing in rapidly.
Urged on by a super stint by Lotterer, who twice set the fastest lap to at times be circulating 10secs a lap quicker than the Porsche in front, the #2 Audi resumed the lead in the final hour, carrying that advantage all the way to the chequered flag to record Audi's 13th Le Mans victory.
A race that would become as much about the team behind-the-scenes as it would the drivers on track as persistent technical issues defined proceedings, Treluyer was full of praise for the 'team spirit' even in moments of adversity.
“I'm overjoyed after this incredible race. There was so much happening and lots of ups and downs. But our team spirit always remained intact. We all felt so sorry about the accident of car number #3. We subsequently took the lead until we had some problems. When car number #1 was running in front we were sure they'd make it. 'It's your turn to win the trophy for Audi, 'we said to them. When they got problems, Tom Kristensen said to us, 'Now it's your turn'. There was a nice, positive atmosphere between both driver squads throughout. 'Thank you' to the whole team, to our engineer Leena (Gade) and to my fellow drivers.”
A third win for the trio after winning in 2011 and 2012, Lotterer was thrilled to prevail on home soil once again following such a challenging race.
“This was a fantastic day for us following some very stressful weeks for the whole Audi squad. The race started well and the spectators saw a great battle between all three manufacturers. When an Audi retired, we chased Toyota as a duo.
“After our rivals had a problem, the way seemed to be clear. Then we had a problem. But our mechanics never lost their motivation and very quickly changed the turbocharger. They know Le Mans and what needs to be done.”
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