Start, Le Mans 24 Hours, 2011

Audi claim victory in tense Le Mans 24 Hours

Le Mans 24 HoursPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Start, Le Mans 24 Hours, 2011
Start, Le Mans 24 Hours, 2011

Audi won the Le Mans 24 Hours for the tenth time in 12 years following a closely-fought race.

The number two car of Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer was the only Audi left in the race following two huge crashes suffered by their team mates.

The race came down to a thrilling sprint to the finish as the leading Audi and Peugeot made their final pit stops within minutes of each other.

That left Lotterer’s lead down to just seven seconds after 23-and-a-half hours of racing.

But Audi took the opportunity to put a fresh set of tyres on the car, which proved decisive over the final half-hour. Lotterer was able to extend his lead over the chasing Simon Pagenaud and take victory by the slender margin of 13 seconds after 24 hours’ racing.

It is Audi’s tenth win in 12 years at Le Mans.

The Peugeots filled second, third, fourth and fifth places having stalked the Audis all race long. They were led by Pagenaud in the car he shared with Sebastien Bourdais and Pedro Lamy.

Stephane Sarrazin, Franck Montagny and Nicolas Minassian shared the third-placed car. Anthony Davidson, Marc Gene and Alexander Wurz finished fourth, the car losing time due to repairs after Wurz crashed at Indianapolis.

The ORECA-run Peugeot 908 of Nicolas Lapierre, Loic Duval and Oliver Panis was fifth.

Audi lost two of their three cars in a pair of horrendous crashes on Saturday.

Towards the end of the first hour Allan McNish tagged the Ferrari of Anthony Beltoise and spun into the barriers at the Dunlop Curves at huge speeds. The car was extensively damaged but fortunately McNish, and the nearby photographers who were showered with debris, was unhurt.

The number one Audi crashed out in similar circumstances after night fell. Mike Rockenfeller hit the barriers at Indianapolis at very high speed, utterly destroying his R18. The safety car was out for well over two hours as hundreds of posts in the barrier had to be replaced.

Rockenfeller, mercifully, was uninjured apart from a flesh wound.

Controversy surrounded the defensive tactics of the Peugeot. On several occasions the sole remaining Audi caught one of the lapped cars and spent several laps trying to get past.

Anthony Davidson spent several laps ahead of Benoit Treluyer, eventually pulling away from the leader. Later on Marc Gene defended even more aggressively from Andre Lotterer, making contact with the Audi at the chicane at one point before letting him past.

The LMP2 category was won comfortably by the Greaves Zytek-Nissan shared by Karim Ojjeh, Tom Kimber-Smith and Olivier Lombard.

Chevrolet won the GTE Pro category with Olivier Beretta, Tommy Milner and Antonio Garcia at the wheel.

The amateur category was won by another Chevrolet, shared by Patrick Bornhauser, Julien Canal and Gabriele Gardel.

Image ?? Audi