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Audi wins dramatic - and tragic - 2013 Le Mans

Audi achieved its ambition of adding a 12th Le Mans 24 Hour title to its already bursting trophy cabinet, but the post-race atmosphere was a very subdued affair.
Say what you like about the 81st running of the world famous Le Mans 24 Hour race, but it was certainly eventful and incident packed.

The rain wouldn't stay away for more than half an hour at a time, making for a record number of safety cars and time spent under yellow flag condition: every time it appeared that the race was settling down into a procession it was soon clear that the weather had very different ideas.

The first shower hit the race just as the tricolour was waved to get proceedings underway, and the sudden onset of the slippery track surface made for treacherous conditions. Allan Simonsen was immediately caught out in the #95 Aston Martin Vantage V8 on the second run through Tertre Rouge; his car lost grip over wet kerbs and snapped left into a brutal impact with the Armco barrier.

Although it was initially reported that the Dane was conscious and talking to medics, tragic news came from the hospital two hours later with confirmation that the 34-year-old from Odense had died of his injuries. The news of the first in-race fatality since 1986 hung heavy over the remainder of the 90th anniversary of Le Mans; the Aston Martin Racing team decided to continue competing at the request of Simonsen's family, with the need to claim a class win in one of the GTE categories given an added emotional impetus.

At the front, Audi's André Lotterer had launched the team's #1 R18 e-tron quattro into an early strong lead past the polewinners in the #2 car, with the three Audis soon locking out the top spots early in the proceedings as an initial burst of pace from the two Toyotas before the hour-long safety car for Simonsen's accident proved to be short-lived.

In the end, Audi proved the master of everything that the French climate could throw at it and one of their three cars was almost always out in front. That might makes it sound like it was an easy drive in the country for the German manufacturer on the way to a certain win, but the truth was rather more white-knuckle than the team would have liked.

The #1 car suffered a mechanical issue during the night with a crank shaft sensor failure that required a lengthy repair in the garage. When the car finally emerged back out onto the track it was 12 laps behind the leaders down in 24th place - and out of contention.

Fortunately the #2 car took over the lead in the hands of the über-experienced Tom Kristensen, and despite some worries from time to time about vibrations the car performed flawlessly for the team, Kristensen and his co-drivers Lois Duval and Allan McNish running in the lead from there all the way to the chequered flag 16 hours later to clinch Audi's 12th Le Mans title.

It was just as well they did, because the #3 Audi was meanwhile struggling to hold back the two Toyotas, who were making a better fist of things then many had been expecting given the relative paces of the cars during the week of practice and qualifying. The #8 Toyota TS030 hybrid eventually settled into a reasonably safe second place in the hands of Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi and Stéphane Sarrazin, while the #7 sister car was locked in an increasingly heated battle for the final podium position with the #3 Audi.




Related Pictures

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Tom Kristensen Audi R18 e-tron quattro
Tom Kristensen / Loic Duval / Allan McNish Audi R18 e-tron quattro
P1 Podium (l-r) Anthony Davidson / Sebastien Buemi / Stephane Sarrazin Toyota Racing TS030, Tom Kristensen / Loic Duval / Allan McNish Audi R18 e-tron quattro, Marc Gene / Lucas Di Grassi / Oliver Jarvis Audi R18 e-tron quattro
P1 Podium (l-r) Anthony Davidson / Sebastien Buemi / Stephane Sarrazin Toyota Racing TS030, Tom Kristensen / Loic Duval / Allan McNish Audi R18 e-tron quattro, Marc Gene / Lucas Di Grassi / Oliver Jarvis Audi R18 e-tron quattro
Tom Kristensen / Loic Duval / Allan McNish Audi R18 e-tron quattro
Oliver Turvey (GBR)
Oliver Turvey (GBR)
Oliver Turvey (GBR)
Oliver Turvey (GBR)
Oliver Turvey (GBR)
LeMans Podium, Marcel Fassler / Andre Lotterer / Benoit Treluyer Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro l
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LeMans Podium, Marcel Fassler / Andre Lotterer / Benoit Treluyer Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro l
wins
LeMans Podium, Marcel Fassler / Andre Lotterer / Benoit Treluyer Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro l
wins
LeMans Podium, Marcel Fassler / Andre Lotterer / Benoit Treluyer Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro l
wins
LeMans Podium, Marcel Fassler / Andre Lotterer / Benoit Treluyer Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro l
wins
LeMans Podium, Marcel Fassler / Andre Lotterer / Benoit Treluyer Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro l
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LeMans Podium, Marcel Fassler / Andre Lotterer / Benoit Treluyer Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro l
wins
LeMans Podium, Marcel Fassler / Andre Lotterer / Benoit Treluyer Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro l
wins

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