LE MANS, France - Agence France-Presse
Audi R18 drivers, German Andre Lotterer, French Benoit Treluyer, Swiss Marcel Faessler, celebrate on the podium after winning the 80th edition of Le Mans race. AFP Photo
The Audi R18 driven by Frenchman Benoit Treluyer, Switzerland’s Marcel Fassler and Germany’s Andre Lotterer won the 80th Le Mans 24-Hour race yesterday.
It was the first time that a hybrid car had won the prestigious race since its inception in 1923.
Audi has now won 11 of the last 13 races at Le Mans since 1999, while for the trio of Treluyer, Fassler and Lotterer it was a second win in succession, albeit in a completely different car.
Bentley’s win in 2003 also came thanks to an engine, staff and drivers provided by Audi who also supplied the second and third placed cars as well.
“To win here, with a hybrid car, it’s fantastic, it’s always difficult to win in Le Mans,” said Audi sport supremo Dr Wolfgang Ullrich.
“We had one or two problems during the race but the team managed to overcome them and we have three cars on the podium.
“Winning here in Le Mans with a hybrid is something new and something that suits us well, as we have always tried to advance future technologies here.”
The No 1 Audi had started from pole position on Saturday and steered clear of all pitfalls, although victory was only assured after 1000 GMT yesterday, when the No 2 Audi, driven by Britain’s Allan McNish, lost precious time after crashing into the safety barrier on the Porsche Curves.
The No 1 Audi completed 378 laps, finishing a lap ahead of the trio of McNish, Rinaldo Capello and Tom Kristensen, who were also driving a hybrid.
McNish, who had been involved in a serious crash here last year, was denied what would have been a third win in Le Mans.
Audi took third place with the No 4 ultra non-hybrid, driven by a trio including 2010 champion Mike
For the trio of Treluyer, Fassler and Lotterer it was a second win in succession, although their victory 12 months ago came in a completely different car.
Beyond the Audi dominance, the Lola-Toyota of Nicolas Prost, Neel Jani and former F1 driver Nick Heidfeld claimed fourth place.
Earlier, British driver Anthony Davidson was taken to hospital after suffering a broken back in a spectacular crash.
Davidson’s Toyota collided with the Ferrari of Piergiuseppe Perazzini, the clash sending his car airborne before smashing into a tyre barrier at Mulsanne Corner in the fifth hour of the celebrated endurance race.
Initial reports from his team suggested he was suffering from shock and back pain, but he later tweeted from hospital: “Well that was a big one! “Lying in a French
hospital with a broken back wasn’t what I had in mind at this stage in the race...” He confirmed to autosport.com that he had breaks to his T11 and T12 vertebrae and would remain in hospital until at least Monday.
The Ferrari also ended upside down as the safety car was summoned and the race stopped.