In a drama filled race Audi stood atop the podium for the twelfth time after winning the 2013 24 Hours of Le Mans on the weekend. The #2 R18 e-tron quattro (Loïc Duval, Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish) completed 348 laps, one more than the #8 Toyota TS030 Hybrid (Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi, Stéphane Sarrazin), with the #3 Audi (Lucas di Grassi, Marc Gené, Oliver Jarvis) claiming third place, just under two minutes behind the Toyota.
Of course, the 81st running of the classic endurance race will be remembered for the sad passing of Danish driver Allan Simonsen, who was killed after crashing his Aston Martin V8 Vantage on the fourth lap of the race.
Throughout the whole race inclement weather and accidents ensured the field spent more time behind the Safety Car than organisers and fans would like. Indeed, a record amount of time was spent under full course yellows—11 periods adding up to more than five hours.
Toyota put up a strong fight and had enviable reliability. While the winning #2 Audi ran faultlessly, too, concerns were raised in the Audi garage after the pole sitting #1 R18 suffered alternator problems and lost several laps while it was repaired. Around the same time the #3 car picked up a puncture following minor contact with a slower car. Unfortunately Oliver Jarvis, who was driving at the time, had to travel almost an entire lap on the damaged tyre and the lost time added up to a two-lap deficit.
Up to that point the three Audis were jostling for positions on the podium. The #1 R18 was never able to rejoin the fight for victory and finished fifth, 10 laps down. The #3 Audi fought back well from its earlier problems to put pressure on the #7 Toyota, which succumbed when Nicolas Lapierre slid off the track in slippery conditions with an hour to go.
A special note of acknowledgement for Tom Kristensen as well, who notched up a record ninth Le Mans victory. It was the third win for Allan McNish and the first for Loïc Duval.
The LMP2 category was won by the #35 Oak Racing Morgan-Nissan. While Porsche took out both the GTE Pro and Am classes. The factory-backed Manthey team 991 911 RSRs finished first and second in GTE Pro, with the customer IMSA Performance Matmut team winning the GTE Am category.
So, we move on to 2014, hopefully learning from the death of Allan Simonsen, where the closeness of the barrier to a large tree may have contributed to his death. And we look forward to increased competition for Audi when Toyota will be joined by Porsche in the chase for LMP1 glory.
e-tron quattro wins again at Le Mans
- Second victory in succession for the Audi R18 e-tron quattro
- Duval/Kristensen/McNish triumph in dramatic race
- Fatal accident in GT class overshadows Audi’s success
23.06.2013 – For the second time in succession, Audi has won the Le Mans 24 Hours with a hybrid race car and quattro drive, thus continuing its unique success story at the world’s most important endurance race. Victory was clinched by Loïc Duval (F), Tom Kristensen (DK) and Allan McNish (GB).
As expected, the twelfth triumph for the four rings at Le Mans was one of the most difficult and hardest-fought ones. Following a change in the regulations that was made at short notice, the three Audi R18 e-tron quattro cars on average were able to do two laps less on one tank filling than their main rival Toyota. The Audi drivers had to compensate for the additional pit stops by faster lap times on track – and did so in weather conditions that at times were extremely difficult.
Rain showers crossed the track again and again during the dramatic race. They resulted in numerous incidents and a total of eleven safety car deployments. The field ran for more than five hours under ‘yellow’ while the track was cleared and repairs were performed.
The three Audi R18 e-tron quattro cars, which are equipped with an electrically driven front axle, were the fastest vehicles in the field throughout the entire race – as well as the most efficient ones: Victory in the Michelin Green X Challenge, a competition of the cleanest, fastest and most efficient prototypes, went to Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm as well.
“We owe the twelfth victory of our brand at Le Mans to the consistent, innovative spirit of our engineers, the unconditional commitment of the entire team and the skills and strong nerves of our drivers. On behalf of Audi, I extend my sincere congratulations on this success to all of them,” said Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG, who, as usual, personally watched the race on location. “This marks another great success for Audi in which our hybrid system again prevailed and new technologies, which our customers will also benefit from in the future, were tested.” They included innovative radiators and matrix-beam LED headlights, which make optimum lighting of the corners at night possible – a crucial advantage at Le Mans.
“We knew that, not least due to the regulatory requirements, it would be very difficult for us this year,” commented Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “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 number ‘2’ Audi R18 e-tron quattro driven by Loïc Duval (France), Tom Kristensen (Denmark) and Allan McNish (Scotland) who had started the race from the pole position. For Duval, who had clinched the pole position on Wednesday, this was the first success at the classic French endurance race and the third for Allan McNish. Tom Kristensen, who has been the sole record holder of the race since 2005, triumphed for the ninth time.
The victorious Audi R18 e-tron quattro ran for 24 hours without the slightest technical problem. Duval/Kristensen/McNish took the lead at 21:43 on Saturday night and would not relinquish it anymore up to triumphantly crossing the finish line at 15:00 on Sunday. The three Audi drivers achieved the crucial one-lap advantage over the second-placed Toyota at an early stage and maintained it all the way to the end, even in partially chaotic conditions with torrential rain.
Misfortune struck the other two Audi squads that almost simultaneously were forced to make unscheduled pit stops shortly before the end of the seventh hour of the race and, up to that time, had made for an Audi one-two-three lead up to that time. Oliver Jarvis was touched by a slower vehicle and, as a result, suffered a punctured tire on which he had to complete nearly an entire lap that cost him two laps. In the thrilling final phase, Le Mans newcomer Lucas di Grassi (Brazil), Marc Gené (Spain) and Oliver Jarvis (Great Britain) managed to overtake the Toyota that had been running in third place up to that time, and to thus secure third place on the podium.
Due to changing the alternator Marcel Fässler (Switzerland), André Lotterer (Germany) and Benoît Tréluyer (France) lost their sure lead a total of twelve laps. With an impressive recovery the 2011 and 2012 winners managed to advance from 24th place to position five in their R18 e-tron quattro.
The 90th anniversary of the Le Mans 24 Hours was overshadowed by a fatal accident that occurred in the GT class shortly after the race started. “Obviously, this horrible incident dampens the joy about another great Le Mans victory for Audi in which our team and our drivers were under extreme tension for 24 hours and couldn’t make any mistakes,” commented Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “We were all completely shocked by the news of Allan Simonsen’s death. 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.”
Quotes after the Audi victory at Le Mans
In a dramatic race, Audi achieved its twelfth victory at the Le Mans 24 Hours. Quotes on the triumph of the Audi R18 e-tron quattro in the world’s most important endurance race.
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): “That was the most difficult race I’ve experienced in my 15 Le Mans years. One reason, no doubt, was having to see a young race driver from Denmark lose his life this weekend. We’re feeling with his family. But the race itself was unusual too. For 24 hours straight, our drivers had to cope with changeable weather and adjust to new conditions over and over in a very short period of time. Consequently, the team in the pits and along the pit wall didn’t have any time to rest – I can’t recall ever having experienced anything quite like this. The entire squad showed an incredible performance in an extreme situation this weekend – I’m proud to be a part of it.”
Chris Reinke (Head of LMP): “After a dramatic beginning, we had a great battle on track. Various technologies competed against each other in the most difficult weather conditions and fought an open battle all the way to the final hours. We’d expected such a race and were extremely well prepared for it – so the Audi R18 e-tron quattro deserved mounting the very top of the podium today.”
Ralf Jüttner (Technical Director Audi Sport Team Joest): “This was the craziest Le Mans we’ve ever experienced in terms of the weather and the safety car periods. 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 number’2’ car, this was the case. Congratulations to Tom (Kristensen) on his ninth victory and to Allan (McNish) on his third success at Le Mans. I’m also happy about Loïc (Duval) being able to celebrate his first victory here. This evokes unique emotions. ‘Thank you’ to Audi Sport and of course to my whole team, including the guys from the other two cars. They all worked hard for this success. Unfortunately, number ‘3’ had enemy contact and thus dropped back. Our number ‘1’ was even the fastest car in the field but was simply unfortunate with some damage. That goes to show that it also takes luck to win here. Congratulations to Toyota, who forced us to fight a fierce battle. That deserves respect.”
Loïc Duval (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2): “Le Mans is a great race that evokes so many emotions and is so tiring. Now I’ve really got to restrain myself to keep from shedding tears. It was a difficult race in which we unfortunately lost someone (Allan Simonsen). Since last year, the whole team has been giving everything and prepared an outstanding car for us. This is my first Le Mans victory – together with Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish. A really great moment in my career!”
Tom Kristensen (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2): “For me, Le Mans was filled with very personal emotions this time. I’m proud to drive for the world’s best team. This applies to all team-mates, all employees in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm and for Audi Sport Team Joest. They make it possible for us to realize a dream. Now this dream has come true again – winning the fastest and toughest race under the direction of Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. Unfortunately, we lost someone yesterday (with Allan Simonsen) who had the same dream. He was a very modest and nice person. That’s why I’m experiencing highs and lows this time. With respect to my ninth victory: I’m driving with determination and the ambition my father inspired in me. He died in March. Before his death, he told me that I’d win Le Mans this year with my team-mates. I’m hoping that one day I’ll be able to celebrate another victory with Loïc and Allan that I can dedicate to my father. Because this Le Mans success I’m dedicating to Allan Simonsen.”
Allan McNish (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2): “Our pace was right this year. The 2013-specification Audi R18 e-tron quattro is simply very, very good. The engineers did a perfect job in the winter. We were here on the test day. Loïc Duval’s lap time and the confidence that Tom Kristensen and I had in the car gave us a good feeling. That’s why for us it was about being careful and driving a clean race throughout – without additional pit stops. Except for a puncture on Tom’s stint our run was perfect for 24 hours straight. There aren’t too many races like that at Le Mans. And we had strong competition in the form of our ‘sister car’ and by Toyota.”
Lucas di Grassi (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #3): “I drove at Le Mans for the first time. The track is really unique. It’s very fast and incredibly difficult to learn and to understand as well. But the atmosphere, the fans and the effort that all the teams invest into this one race are impressive. You can feel the great confidence which Audi has in us. Especially for me as a newcomer, the race wasn’t easy. But I gave my best. We even finished on the podium, which is really a great feeling. I learned a lot and would very much like to run here again in the future.”
Marc Gené (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #3): “What a fantastic result for Audi. Unfortunately, our squad lost two laps at the beginning of the race due to a damaged tire valve. As a result, Oliver (Jarvis) had to complete a whole lap on three wheels. Afterward, we benefited from a safety car period to repair the car. Congratulations to our Audi winners as well as to Toyota on a great race and to my team-mates Lucas (di Grassi) and Oliver, who drove a good race in difficult conditions.”
Oliver Jarvis (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #3): “The whole race was very difficult. Fortunately, my team-mates handed the car over to me in a promising position. We knew that to finish on the podium we had to give everything. And that’s exactly what we did in the final 18 hours. We watched the distance to the Toyota and knew that we’d have to be at least 1.2–1.4 seconds faster per lap to catch up to it. I always drove at the limit, which wasn’t easy as the conditions kept changing. That was very challenging because in front of a turn you never knew what was awaiting you. It was arguably the most difficult race I’ve contested so far. I’m happy about third place. But it’s also a bit frustrating that we lost two laps due to a collision. ‘Well done’ to the team of Audi’s car number ‘2.’ Tom, Loïc and Allan They drove a flawless race. But I congratulate Toyota as well, who were a strong rival.”
Marcel Fässler (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): “Congratulations to the whole squad of the winning car. They had a flawless weekend, were always super-fast and therefore deserved winning. Unfortunately, we had a small technical problem that caused us to lose a lot of ground. Afterward, we attacked. The car was perfect and we really enjoyed it. We made up a bit of ground but unfortunately it wasn’t enough to be able to attack again at the very front. But that’s secondary – the most important thing is that Audi won.”
André Lotterer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): “This is a great day for Audi. Congratulations to the team of number two. I’m particularly happy for Loïc (Duval), because he’s been a good friend of mine for a long time. I recommended him to Audi Sport and it’s fantastic that he managed to clinch this success. But the ninth Le Mans victory by Tom (Kristensen) is an impressive achievement as well. For us, the race took an unfortunate course. That was a shame because we had an absolutely fast car. Unfortunately, we lost the lead due to a technical problem. Afterward, Ben, Marcel and I gave everything again but with a twelve-lap gap, it’s very difficult to advance again to the far front. The main thing is that an Audi has won. We’ll try it again next year.”
Benoît Tréluyer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): “This was a particularly tough 24-hour race at Le Mans this year. The entire squad did a superb job and we had an outstanding car. But to win here, simply everything’s got to fit – and it didn’t in our case this year. We were simply lacking the necessary fortune. Otherwise we could no doubt have been in contention for victory here. ‘Well done’ to the team of our sister car designated as number ‘2’ that drove a great race and clinched the well-deserved victory for Audi.”