Sunday, June 12, 2011

Audi Wins 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans

In one of the closest and most competitive 24 Hours of Le Mans in recent history Audi won the 79th edition of the famous twice around the clock French endurance classic by only a mere 13.854 seconds after 355 laps of hard racing. The number 2 Audi R18 TDI driven by Andre Loterrer, Marcel Fässler and Benoît Tréluyer finished only seconds ahead of the number 9 Peugeot 908. Rounding out the podium was the number 8 Peugeot 908 that finished two laps behind. While the race ended with an Audi victory things looked bleak for Audi after two of its three brand new R18s were destroyed in horrific-looking accidents. Fortunately neither Allan McNish nor Mike Rockenfeller were seriously injured in their accidents. Contrary to the past few years when the Audi R15 and R10 were slower than their Peugeot competition the R18 proved to be just a bit quicker than the new 908. In the P2 category the Nissan Zytek of Greaves Motorsports took class honors with 326 laps completed. Corvette Racing number 73 ZR1 won the GTE Pro category ahead of the AF Corse Ferrari 458 and the BMW M3 GT while the number 50 Labre Competition ZR1 took top honors in GTE AM category.

Looking back at the race this one will be remembered for its incredible fight between Audi and Peugeot and the two heavy R18 impacts. With less than an hour of the race completed Audi had lost its most experienced team with 13 combined Le Mans victories. Things would get worse for the team as the defending champions would be out of the race early in the night. The Audi team must be commended for staying together after the hard impacts and persevering against the three Peugeots that were almost willing to trade one of their cars for the remaining Audi. In the end the little extra pace that Audi had over the pace along with the ability to run their drivers and tires for longer at a time allowed Audi to win even with a few extra stops for fuel .

In P2 the Greaves Motorsport team won by a comfortable margin in their Zytek Nissa that appeared to be the powerplant of choice in P2.Of note was the second place finish of the "Playstation Driver" Lucas Ordonez driving for the Singatech team, time to hit the couch and start racing. As always the competition in GT category was exciting if perhaps not as close as before. The #74 Corvette benefited from the first safety car period to get a significant lead on the class only to crash out later. It was the #73 Corvette that was eventually able to hunt down and pass the Af Corse 458 Italia that was suffering mechanical issues. Coming third in class was the #56 BMW M3 GT, BMW must be somewhat dissapointed by not being able to match their qualifying pace. Of note was the lack of a 911 on the podium in perhaps the last Le Mans for the 997. The Labre Competition team took first and second in GT AM. However, the biggest story in the class was the Robertson Racing Ford GT-Doran team of husband and wife Dave and Andrea Robertson (and pro driver David Murry )that won the race on their wedding anniversary. While this is a great story, not everyone feels that amateur drivers belong at such a fiercely competitive race such as Le Mans. Make your own decision on this one.

Le Mans 2011 was one of the best of all time thanks to Audi and Peugeot pushing each other to the limit and then some. Take a look at the final results here and relive the race through our hourly updates here.

The victorious number 2 Audi team of Andre Loterrer, Marcel Fässler and Benoît Tréluyer.

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