Audi WEC

2014 LM24: Audi post-race review

2014 24 Hours of Le Mans

A few days on and Audi’s one-two victory at the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans is no less remarkable. This year’s race was a true test of endurance and when the #2 R18 e-tron quattro (Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer) came in to have a new turbo fitted, the sweet taste of champagne would have been the last thing in mind.

Such was the attrition, with Toyota first, and then Porsche, falling by the wayside, that the adage of never giving up proved true and Audi’s thirteenth Le Mans win was the result.

A fantastic result for a team who knows how to win. Further illustrated with the second place finish for the #1 car (di Grassi/Gené/Kristensen). This car also needed its turbo replaced and such is the precision of the Audi crew that they were able to reduce the time in pit lane compared with the repairs to the #2 car.

Audi likes to brag about its efficiency, their pit guys showed that efficiency comes in many forms. Perhaps more than usual Audi’s mechanics have a real stake in this result and it was a thoroughly deserved win for Audi Sport Team Joest.

Race winner André Lotterer summed his team up best: “They know Le Mans and what needs to be done.”

Audi WEC

Audi wins 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans

Audi R18 e-tron quattro wins 2014 Le Mans

The #2 R18 e-tron quattro (Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer, Benoît Tréluyer) has won an amazing thirteenth victory for Audi at the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Providing a formation one-two finish the #1 R18 (Lucas di Grassi, Tom Kristensen, Marc Gené) came home in P2. While the #8 Toyota TS040 (Anthony Davidson, Nicolas Lapierre, Sébastien Buemi) finished third.

This was a true test of endurance and all three podium winners spent extended time in the pits with problems.

Porsche has much to be proud of but will be disappointed that neither of its cars were classified finishers.

We’ll have more, including a pictorial update in coming days.

Audi Porsche WEC

2014 LM24: Wake up Australia!

2014 24 Hours of Le Mans

With less than three hours to race Mark Webber’s #20 Porsche 919 Hybrid is leading the 24 Hours of Le Mans!

Mark’s car is not the fastest and has assumed the lead due to problems with its competitors. First, the #7 Toyota TS040 looked very comfortable and set for a well earned victory. The car dominated the race for 14 hours until an electrical fault with the wiring loom forced the car into retirement.

That gave the lead to the #2 Audi R18 which enjoyed a solid three lap gap to the cars behind. Drama soon befell that car when it came into the pits for a turbo replacement. The car lost over 20 minutes and resumed in P3, some two laps down on the #1 Audi.

Remarkably, then, the #1 Audi was leading the race. Remember, this was the car that was built from the ground up overnight during the week after the original chassis was crashed by Loic Duval during the first qualifying session on Wednesday. Marc Gene was drafted into the team to replace Duval who was ruled out, despite not suffering any serious injury.

Also, this meant Mark’s Porsche, with Timo Bernhard at the wheel, was now in second place. It couldn’t happen, could it?

More drama followed when the #1 Audi also had to pit for a new turbo. Suddenly, the #20 Porsche found istelf in the lead. It’s a lead the car still holds, albeit some 50 seconds ahead of the #2 Audi, which has showed outstanding speed since its turbo was replaced.

It’s not clear if it’s due to strategy or outright pace, but the Audi is clearly faster than the Porsche right now. For the leading 919, with Bernhard at the wheel, young Kiwi Brendon Hartley would usually be the next driver in the car. We expect there will be one more driver change before the end of the race. Will Mark Webber be given the responsibility to bring the car home?

One thing is clear, Porsche is so far exceeding all expectations, even if largely due to the misfortune of others. But, as the saying goes, to finish first, first you have to finish. And we could be set for an all-time classic finish, so get your arse in front of your laptop, or on the couch and cheer Mark home!

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2014 Le Mans video updates

#7 Toyota TS040 Hybrid

The 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans is approaching half race distance and to date the race has been dominated by the #7 Toyota TS040 Hybrid. Alex Wurz is at the wheel right now and he holds a lead of over 2 minutes from the #2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro with André Lotterer at the wheel.

Intermittent and heavy rain patches affected the race early and ended the chances of the #8 Toyota and #3 Audi after a coming together on the Mulsanne Straight. The Toyota was able to limp back into the pits and get back running again and it’s now in P6 13 laps behind the leader. Alas for the Audi its race was over.

Porsche seemed to be running a split strategy with its two 919 Hybrids. The #14 car was running hot early in the race, mixing it with the leaders, until an electrical glitch limiting the car’s speed after 30 minutes forced the car into pitlane. Meanwhile, Timo Bernhard’s more circumspect approach in the #20 919 paid dividends when for a short while he lead the race. His lack of outright pace made him vulnerable, though, and Bernhard was soon swallowed up by the #7 Toyota and the #2 and #1 Audis.

Mark Webber has finally had his first competition experience at Le Mans after two failed attempts in the late 90s with Mercedes. He put in some solid laps, driving well into the night, but said after his stint they’re having to manage some problems. The car is running relatively smoothly in fourth place but is two laps behind.

There’s a selection of video highlights for you after the break, along with the following links to help you foolow the action.

Audi Porsche Toyota WEC

Toyota claims pole for 2014 Le Mans

2014 24 Hours of Le Mans qualifying

The third and final qualifying session for the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans has just finished and the #7 Toyota TS040 Hybrid (Wurz/Sarrazin/Nakajima) has claimed pole position with a time of 3:21.789, set by Kazuki Nakajima.

Porsche’s return to the outright category has gone well so far with its #14 919 Hybrid (Dumas/Jani/Lieb) posting a best lap of 3:22.146, good enough to be on the front row. The #20 Porsche (Bernhard/Webber/Hartley) will start from P4 (3:22.908). This car held provisional pole (3:24.136) after Wednesday’s qualifying, but did not improve its time.

Audi had a less than smooth qualifying after a massive crash by Loic Duval in the #1 R18 e-tron quattro during the opening session on Wednesday. Remarkably, he suffered no serious injury but has been ruled out of the race and has been replaced by Marc Gene. The car was a total wreck an Audi has used a new tub to build a new car and will start with three cars as planned.

The best placed R18 is the #3 car (Albuquerque/Bonanomi/Jarvis) which will start from P5 (3:23.271). Starting from P6 will be the #2 R18 (Fassler/Lotterer/Treluyer) with a best time of 3:24.276. The recreated #1 R18 (Di Grassi/Gene/Kristensen) is the last placed of the main front runners and will line up from P7 after setting a time of 3:25.814.

Toyota’s second TS040 will line up from P3 after the #8 car (Davidson/Lapierre/Buemi) lapped the 13.6km Le Mans circuit in 3:22.523.

Taking a look at the total lap count of the top seven cars from qualifying is interesting. The Toyotas and Audis had lap counts in the high 30s, while the Porsche lap counts were in the mid-teens. There’s probably countless theories as to why the 919 was relatively inactive, but if nothing else the car clearly has raw pace.

We’ve got an onboard video for you after the break, filmed from the #7 Toyota TS040. We’ll also update this post with official statements from the three main teams as they come to hand.

[Source: Autosport]

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Audi welcomes Porsche back to Le Mans

Audi R18 e-tron quattro

It would appear Audi is very happy to have Porsche back chasing outright success at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. To illustrate that fact they sent an Audi R18 e-tron quattro on a drive from Ingolstadt to Stuttgart to deliver a special message. It’s pretty cool.

With 27 race wins between them they are the most successful marques in the race’s long and proud history. And yet, we reckon it’s Toyota both need to be watching ahead of next weekend’s race.

Audi Porsche Toyota WEC

Toyota favourites heading to Le Mans

WEC 24 Hours of Le Mans official test session

The Toyota TS040 Hybrid has firmed as the car to beat at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. Two wins in the opening rounds of the WEC season had already set up Toyota as the 2014 front runners and the TS040’s abilities at the Circuit de la Sarthe were confirmed after last weekend’s official test session, when the two Toyotas topped the lap charts.

Two weeks out from the event this is the only opportunity for the teams get to run the full Le Mans layout. After the two day session the fastest time around the 13.6km circuit was set by the #8 Toyota (3:23:014).

Audi set the early pace with its R18 e-tron quattro, but in the end the defending champions had to make do with the third and fourth best times. Audi is the only of the LMP1 teams to run three cars and the remaining R18 split the two Porsche 919 Hybrids. The #14 Porsche was fifth and Mark Webber’s #20 919 the seventh and slowest of the factory-backed LMP1 runners.

Full statements from the three teams can be read after the break. The 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans will take place on 14–15 June with Australian television coverage available on Foxtel’s Speed TV channel.

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Toyota wins 2014 6hrs of Spa

2014 6 Hours of Spa

Toyota has set itself up as the favourite for Le Mans after taking victory in the 6 Hours of Spa on the weekend. The #8 TS040 backed up its success at Silverstone with another win, while the #7 sister car came home third.

Splitting the two Toyotas was the #1 Audi R18, with all three cars completeing 171 laps of the famous Spa-Francorchamps circuit.

The #14 Porsche 919, which started from pole position, started well and established a lead of over 10 seconds in the first stint before a few minor issues with the hybrid system required attention. In the end Porsche had to be satisfied with fourth place, one lap behind the leaders.

A pair of Audi R18s filled positions five and six, with the #3 car running in low downforce Le Mans trim—the only of the three LMP1 teams to do so. Audi will be heading to the Circuit de la Sarthe with a lot more work to do than it is used to. The challenge from Toyota appears very real this year.

The #20 Porsche 919 of Mark Webber, had problems throughout the race. First with the rear dampers and later with the front drive shaft. They were able to finish the race but were 23 laps behinf the winning Toyota.

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Toyota wins 2014 6hrs of Silverstone

2014 6 Hours of Silverstone

The 2014 WEC season got off to the best possible start overnight after Toyota claimed a dominant 1–2 victory in a rain affected 6 Hours of Silverstone. Two laps behind the winning #8 Toyota TS040 (Davidson, Lapierre, Buemi) was the #20 Porsche 919 (Bernhard, Hartley, Webber). That result marks a promising return to the LMP1 category for Porsche.

“The team did a fantastic job all weekend,” said Anthony Davidson after the victory. “It looked like it would be an epic fight with Audi and Porsche if it had stayed dry, but we knew the rain was coming and we had set our car up for wet conditions.

“We made the right call on tyres, the strategy was just perfect; that’s how you win races.”

Defending champions Audi had a race to forget with both the R18s crashing out of contention. Luca di Grassi was at the wheel when the #1 R18 went out early in proceedings, while the #2 car lasted until mid-race distance having lost time due to a separate incident in the first hour.

The #14 Porsche 919 also went off-track briefly, although no major damage was done. However, its race came to an end early in the second hour due to a “technical problem”. This highlights how valuable the third place for the #20 car was, enabling the team to gather valuable track time and experience in addition to championship points.

In a three horse race, with two established rivals and a new kid on the block, this set of results builds anticipation for the 6 Hours of Spa in two weeks.

The Audis have shown they have raw pace, setting the fastest single lap in both qualifying and the race, and with multiple championships behind them they’re unlikely to repeat the double blunder we saw here at Silverstone.

Toyota has built on its LMP1 experience and this result will give them confidence to carry its momentum to Spa. While Porsche has shown it can have the reliability it needs to keep its more fancied rivals honest.

“It’s been a brilliant day for us,” Mark Webber siad post-race. “I’m happy to have played a small role in the effort that’s gone in from the team and everyone back at the factory to get to this point.

“Timo and Brendon drove exceptionally as well. It was unfortunate for the other car, but it wasn’t their day. It was a tough race for all the drivers with tricky conditions, and drizzle on slick tyres is never easy. We managed to dodge a few bullets and survived some of the tricky phases.

“It was a great experience for me, I learnt so much today in the race. We were spot on with the pit stops in terms of the tyre strategy.”

Official race reports and photos from Toyota, Porsche and Audi can be viewed after the break.

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Porsche fastest at two-day WEC Prologue

Porsche 919 Hybrid

The Porsche 919 Hybrid headed the field after the WEC’s official two-day Prologue test at Paul Ricard on the weekend. The #20 car of Mark Webber went fastest during the Friday evening session when Brendon Hartley posted a lap time of 1:41.289.

Hartley’s teammates, Timo Bernhard and Webber, also broke the 1:42 barrier on the first day of testing. The #2 Audi R18 with Andre Lotterer at the wheel set the next best time of the weekend when he went 1:42.073 on Friday afternoon.

Romain Dumas, driving the #14 919, recorded the third quickest lap with a best time of 1:42.126. Toyota’s fastest lap in the TS040 of 1:42.356 came during the Friday afternoon session.

There were two sessions run on Saturday, which were slower overall. The best times were in the 1:43s and were set by the #1 and #2 Audi R18s of Tom Kristensen and Marcel Fassler.

With the more open nature of the new LMP1 regulations it’s difficult to compare like with like. Aside from the different engine configurations found in the three factory LMP1 teams the Audi R18 can use up to 2MJ of recovered energy per lap, while the Porsche 919 and Toyota TS040 can use up to 6MJ. This means the regulations employ a complex measure of how much fuel each car can use per lap in order to try and keep performance as even as possible.

It’s probably best just to worry about which car is fastest against the clock and, if you care enough, then start looking into the reasons why. Needless to say all three teams were claiming success after the Prologue, saying that testing went to their pre-arranged schedules. It seems everyone’s a winner. For now.

The real winner will be known in a few weeks when the flag drops and the bullshit stops when racing begins in earnest at the 6 Hours of Silverstone on 20 April.

Speaking after the Prologue Mark Webber explained just getting through the team’s program was a bonus for Porsche: “This test here was a big milestone. To enter two cars for the first time was a tremendous amount of hard work for the crew on the operational side.

“Smooth running was a well-deserved award and a good tonic for the guys after a long week. Every day we run we find more areas to improve, which is very encouraging. The track lay-out at Paul Ricard seems to suit our car very well. I’m curious to find out how we can perform in Silverstone.”

Audi WEC

2014 Audi R18 e-tron quattro revealed

2014 Audi R18 e-tron quattro

Following its track test at Sebring earlier this week Audi has given us more information on its 2014 WEC LMP1 challenger, the 2014 R18 e-tron quattro.

Powered by a V6 TDI and dual hybrid systems Audi is keen to push its record of transferring race technology to the road. Technology we take for granted now, such as TFSI petrol engines, advanced diesel engines and LED headlights, are just some of the technologies Audi has taken from its LMP1 program to its production lines.

New regulations for the 2014 season have seen Audi further develop its R18 concept and motorsport boss, Dr Wolfgang Ullrich, tells us the result is a shift in thinking: “The principles of the LMP1 regulations have fundamentally changed. The idea behind this is to achieve similarly fast lap times as in the past with considerably less energy. Making more out of less: a forward-thinking approach.”

More photos and a host of press material awaits after the break giving us a good run down of what to expect in the 2014 WEC season.

Audi WEC

Audi previews 2014 LMP1 challenger

2014 Audi R18 e-tron quattro

Audi has just released this image of its 2014 LMP1 racecar which will defend its WEC title and Le Mans crown. Clearly Audi has put all the good ideas into the car itself because it’s still called the R18 e-tron quattro. That’s despite some significant changes to the LMP1 category for 2014.

The new R18 is undergoing testing at Sebring International Raceway in Florida and full details of the car will be released on 18 December.

Dr Wolfgang Ullrich, Audi Motorsport boss, says the team is aiming to get some development miles into its new R18.

“The tests are mainly focused on achieving high mileage, coordinating the highly complex hybrid drive systems and working out an efficiency-optimized total package that has never before been as complex as this one,” Ullrich said.