Lone Audi outduels four Peugeots at LeMans

The winning No. 2 Audi

The Audi team came to LeMans with three of the new lightweight R18s in an attempt to win the 24 Hour classic two years in a row. But two scary accidents, one with Allan McNish at the wheel and one with Mike Rockenfeller driving saw two of the three R18s totally destroyed and the German team down to a lone R19, the No. 2 that sat on the pole.

The #2 (LM P1) Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 TDI driven by Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer fought its way to a magnificent win of the 79'th running of the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans 2011.

The American Corvette team won the hard fought GT Professional class on this the 100th year anniversary of Chevy.

How close was the finish? The leading Audi made its final stop on lap 343 with a 24s lead over Simon Pagenaud's. The Audi took on four new tires, while the #9 908 opted just for fuel and consequently came out of the pits just seven seconds behind.

With his newer tires Lotterer was able to open the gap to more than 10s with just 20 minutes to go.

Pagenaud got the gap below 20s again and kept the pressure on the Audi, hoping for a mistake by Lotterer.

But Lotterer never put a wheel wrong, holding off the Peugeot by just 13.8s and the Audi team, after its early crashes, celebrated a richly deserved victory in a classic edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Nicolas Minassian brought the No. 8 Peugeot home third, while Marc Gene finished fourth in the sister #7 Peugeot.

Nicolas Lapierre finished fifth in the #10 Matmut Peugeot, ahead of Neel Jani in the gasoline powered LMP1 #12 Rebellion Lola.

Olivier Lombard took the win in LMP2 for the #41 Greaves Motorsport Zytek-Nissan.

Antonio Garcia in the #73 Corvette took the checkered in GTE Pro, finishing more than one lap clear of the #51 AF Corse Ferrari. Third in GTE Pro was the #56 BMW M3 GT.

And it was doubly sweet for Chevy when the #50 Larbre Competition Corvette took victory by just over one lap in the GTE Am class.

Summary by Class

Audi had a mixed 24 Hours of Le Mans. After a black Saturday, with accidents of Mc Nish (#3) and Rockenfeller (#1), the remaining R18 TD1, the crew of #2, had the job of erasing the images of the dreadful incidents from their minds. Fortunately the drivers were unharmed. Audi #2 resisted repeated attacks by Davidson (Peugeot 908, #7) and especially from the 908, #9 (Bourdais / Pagenaud / Lamy) in the struggle for victory. At midnight the Peugeot 908 was in attack mode, but the agility and speed of the Audi made all the difference.
But the duel between Audi and Peugeot, did not overshadow the great battle of the 'petrol' prototypes. After a long fight with the Rebellion Lola-Toyota, #13 (Boullion / Bellichi / Smith) and at the end, the crash of Boullion Henri Pescarolo was smiling. Until the accident of Collard (#16), in the late morning of Sunday. This led to the Rebellion Lola-Toyota, #12 – (Prost / Jani / Bleekmolen) taking the honorary title as best petrol powered car of the category.

The battle between "small" protos was a treat, and the victory of the Greaves Motorsport Zytek Nissan, #41 (Ojjeh / Lombard / Kimber-Smith) demonstrates that to take care of the car is the first rule in endurance racing. First the Honda Racing Strakka #42 (Leventis / Watts / Kane) set an example in consistency, but a mechanical problem forced the team to retire. Leaving the lead of the team classification to the Oreca 03 Nissan #48 (Premat / Halliday / Kraihamer). David Hallyday destroyed the prototype, during the fourth race interruption in the early morning. The 03-Oreca Nissan Signatech the team of #26 (Mailleux / Ayari / Ordonez) had a complicated race. But it led to Philippe and his men winning a deserved second place. The podium was completed by American Level 5 Motorsports Lola Honda #33 (Bouchut / Tucker / Barbosa) who took third place. It is Frenchman Christophe Bouchut's 17th Le Mans!

BMW had an ambitious dream of victory for the M3 GT but Le Mans is unforgiving. The #74 Corvette (Gavin / Magnussen / Westbrook), who initially benefited from the troubles of the German cars to take command before it ran off the track leading to retirement. The Ferrari (AF Corse), #51 (Fisichella / Bruni / Vilander) benefited from this, to take the lead ahead of the Corvette, #73 (Beretta / Milner / Garcia) and ran like clockwork to take the lead. The Ferrari had to be content with second place to the surviving BMW (Priaulx / D.Muller / Hand). The M3 GT, #56 mitigated the disappointment of the German manufacturer.

The pit boards were busy in this category. All competitors experienced the sometimes harsh reality of endurance racing. Incessant attacks, risk taking, in short, a frenzied race that was eventually won by the Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1, #50 (Bornhauser / Canal / Gardel). Porsche dominated the morning but finally had to settle for second place, for the #70 Larbre Competition ( Bourret/Gibon/Belloc ). Jack Leconte, the happy team owner, achieved a double victory. On the last step of the podium was the Ford GT-Doran #68, (D. Robertson / A. Robertson / Murry) who took third place from the JMB Ferrari #83 at the very end of the race.


After Henri Pescarolo, Jacky Ickx, Michele Alboreto and Tom Kristensen, Benoît Tréluyer is only the fifth driver in history to have won the Le Mans 24 Hours from the pole position. For the Frenchman this was the first victory at his home race, as it was for his team colleagues Marcel Fässler and André Lotterer. With a track record of ten victories now, Audi is now ranking in second place of the honor roll alone. Quotes after the Le Mans thriller.

Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "2011 was no doubt the most difficult Le Mans race we’ve ever contested – but in the end with the sweetest result we’ve ever had as well. From such a difficult situation we managed to recover again on our own power and in the end to defeat – albeit with a narrow margin – our really strong competitors from Peugeot. After eight hours we’d lost two of our three cars and knew that it would be extremely difficult with just one car. The entire squad gave everything to do the best for this car. Of course the drivers had to drive it. And they did a really fantastic job – although it was the squad with the least experience at Le Mans. Of course it’s extremely important that Allan (McNish) and Mike (Rockenfeller) came out of both accidents, which were really severe, without any injuries."

Marcel Fässler (Audi R18 TDI #2): "This has been a tremendous day. The last six hours were incredible. It just seemed like they wouldn’t pass. When I looked at the time I kept thinking it had stopped. I said to myself: The clock can’t be running, it would have had to be over a long time ago. I tried to stand somewhere where I couldn’t listen to any commentators. But that was simply impossible. You could see the dream coming closer and closer. And then there were moments when everything became increasingly difficult, like the situation with the slow puncture just before the end when André (Lotterer) was driving. And then you start trembling again: Will the dream really come true. And then it did come true. It’s really fantastic. We worked hard for this all winter. Le Mans is the most important race. I’m particularly happy to be the first Swiss to have won it."

André Lotterer (Audi R18 TDI #2): "It was a very intensive race. I was pushing like crazy from the first to the last minute. I felt no boredom in the car. I gave everything that was possible. And I had no choice but to do that either. In the end it worked out. I’m simply happy that together we’ve managed to do this. All the mechanics and everyone else worked so hard to prepare the car. This is a great reward for many hours of overtime. Due to the two accidents yesterday was a difficult day for Audi Sport. I’m very happy that Allan (McNish) and Rocky are okay and that despite the accidents we’ve got a reason for joy."

Benoît Tréluyer (Audi R18 TDI #2): "We’ve won an incredible race. A fantastic feeling! That was clearly a team victory. We only did the driving. The biggest job was the preparation. Without a fast and reliable car like our Audi victory at a 24-hour race wouldn’t have been possible. I’d also like to mention Marco (Bonanomi) who helped us very much. The victory belongs to the team that has gathered here today. It’s like in soccer: If just one person is missing you can’t win. It’s particularly nice that I attended the same racers school here at Le Mans as Marcel (Fässler) and Sébastien (Bourdais). This makes it all the better to be on the podium here at this venue with them."

Timo Bernhard (Audi R18 TDI #1): "I’m incredibly happy for the team. The whole team stuck together tremendously in the preparation phase. I take my hat off to car number 2. They drove a superb race. A very strong performance. Naturally, we would have liked to have been among the front runners with our car number 1 as well. But even when we were forced to just watch we could see that the car was incredibly competitive. Until our retirement we were in contention. I can’t deny my disappointment as a driver. But the most important thing is that Mike is okay. He had no choice but to react the way he did in that situation. Congratulations to the whole Audi Sport team. A superb showing. I’m happy that victory has been clinched."

Romain Dumas (Audi R18 TDI #1): "For sure it’s a good race when you work for nearly one year to prepare and then win this race. Okay my car wasn’t on top of the podium today but I am very happy that it is Audi that has won. We all share this victory. We all work together. That is the strength of this incredible team. Last year we won. Benoit, André and Marcel were second and they were very happy for us and now we are very happy for them."

Mike Rockenfeller (Audi R18 TDI #1): "I was driving my fourth stint. Just three or four more laps and the tank would have been empty. After the Mulsanne corner I was on the long straight heading for Indy. In the second right-hand there was a GT car in front of me. It was running on the left-hand side and I used the headlight flasher. For me it was clear that he would stay on the left as he had the lap before too. We overtake very often at this place of the track. Just as I was running alongside him at 300 km/h he misjudged this. He suddenly pulled over to the right. I still wanted to evade him by going out on the grass. Nevertheless he must have still slightly touched me at the rear. I immediately turned left. It was a severe accident. But the most important thing is that I’m basically okay. The safety standards are simply enormous and have saved my life. I’ve never had such an accident in my life and hope that I’ll never have such an experience again. I’m extremely sorry. We had good chances of being in contention for victory. I would always take advantage of such a gap again because I believe that it was not a risky maneuver. It was quite a normal act of straight overtaking. Consideration should be given to perhaps finding another solution for amateur drivers. it’s simply too dangerous. There were several dangerous incidents for me while I was driving. At that particular moment, unfortunately, the outcome wasn’t so good."

Dindo Capello (Audi R18 TDI #3): "After the bad start of the race and the big fright we had at seeing Allan’s and then Rocky’s accidents we are pleased that they are fortunately in very good shape. We now can enjoy this great moment and congratulate the team of car #2. The drivers, the team, the engineers but especially all the people from Audi who are back in Ingolstadt at the moment who gave us not only the most beautiful racing car on the starting grid but also the fastest car. That is something unique and now we celebrate. We got pole position and fastest lap and we won the race. It’s more than we expected. Congratulations to everyone."

Tom Kristensen (Audi R18 TDI #3): "A fantastic result for Audi. All the energy went into one car after we lost two. I was extremely disappointed at the time but overwhelmed by the fact that nobody was hurt, neither Allan (McNish), spectators or any of the photographers and the same for Mike (Rockenfeller’s) accident. Of course we have mental pain but nobody got badly hurt. My biggest respect to Benoit (Tréluyer), André (Lotterer) and Marcel (Fässler). They have done a fantastic Le Mans race. Not to have been behind the steering wheel is personally something I haven’t enjoyed but being witness to a really fantastic Le Mans race is something which goes down in the Audi history books as one of the greatest achievements at the legendary circuit."

Allan McNish (Audi R18 TDI #3): "Congratulations to Audi. Congratulations to the winning team. A superb result. André (Lotterer) drove superbly as did Marcel (Fässler) and Ben (Tréluyer). The tears in the garage just show the pressure they were under all of the way through the race. For our car’s situation, and for Rocky and his car, as well there is a touch of sadness as it’s not an Audi 1, 2, 3 like last year but today’s race winning performance was just incredible. Regarding my accident: I went down the inside of a GT class Ferrari which was just ahead. As I got past the first thing I knew was I was spinning towards the wall on the left hand side and so immediately realized that he’d tagged the left rear of my car with the right front of his – after that I was just along for the ride. It was a very big accident. I have to say a huge thank you to the Audi designers because they have produced a car that could survive an enormous impact allowing the driver to open the door and get out unharmed."

Ralf Jüttner (Technical Director Audi Sport Team Joest): "A completely crazy race – I don’t think the world has ever seen anything like this before. Maybe there have been races at Le Mans before with an even closer outcome. But to be dueling with several cars over the period of 24 hours within gaps of just seconds – I don’t think this has ever happened before. It was really nerve-racking. Everyone who has been here will only realize what happened a few days from now. After Spa we were sitting together. Not everything was going as planned there. At that time Jo Hausner wished for us to have a race here in which Audi and Peugeot would be within seconds of each other up to the end. And that’s exactly what we got – I could curse him for that … It was a great victory for Audi – but also for Allan (McNish) and particularly for Mike (Rockenfeller). We had horrible accidents. We’ve got to thank Audi for building such safe cars."



No. Car Team Class Behind
1. #2 Audi Audi Sport Team Joest LMP1 +0.000s
2. #9 Peugeot Team Peugeot Total LMP1 +13.854
3. #8 Peugeot Peugeot Sport Total LMP1 +2 Laps
4. #7 Peugeot Peugeot Sport Total LMP1 +4 Laps
5. #10 Peugeot Team Oreca-Matmut LMP1 +16 Laps
6. #12 Lola Rebellion Racing LMP1 +17 Laps
7. #22 Lola Kronos Racing LMP1 +27 Laps
8. #41 Zytek Greaves Motorsport LMP2 +29 Laps
9. #26 Oreca Signatech Nissan LMP2 +35 Laps
10. #33 Lola Level 5 Motorsports LMP2 +36 Laps
11. #73 Corvette Corvette Racing GTEP +41 Laps
12. #36 HPD RML LMP2 +41 Laps
13. #51 Ferrari AF Corse GTEP +41 Laps
14. #49 OAK OAK Racing LMP2 +42 Laps
15. #56 BMW BMW Motorsport GTEP +42 Laps
16. #77 Porsche Team Felbermayr-Proton GTEP +43 Laps
17. #76 Porsche IMSA Performance Matmut GTEP +44 Laps
18. #80 Porsche Flying Lizard Motorsports GTEP +45 Laps
19. #40 Oreca Race Performance LMP2 +51 Laps
20. #50 Corvette Larbre Competition GTEA +53 Laps
21. #70 Porsche Larbre Competition GTEA +54 Laps
22. #65 Lotus Lotus Jetalliance GTEP +60 Laps
23. #75 Porsche Prospeed Competition GTEP +62 Laps
24. #66 Ferrari JMW Motorsport GTEP +65 Laps
25. #35 OAK OAK Racing LMP2 +67 Laps
26. #68 Ford Robertson Racing GTEA +70 Laps
27. #83 Ferrari JMB Racing GTEA +83 Laps
28. #44 Norma Extr LMP2 +108 Laps
29. #16 Pescarolo Pescarolo Team LMP1 Retired
30. #55 BMW BMW Motorsport GTEP Retired
31. #74 Corvette Corvette Racing GTEP Retired
32. #81 Porsche Flying Lizard Motorsports GTEA Retired
33. #48 Oreca Team Oreca-Matmut LMP2 Retired
34. #63 Porsche Proton Competition GTEA Retired
35. #13 Lola Rebellion Racing LMP1 Retired
36. #61 Ferrari AF Corse GTEA Retired
37. #59 Ferrari Luxury Racing GTEP Retired
38. #71 Ferrari AF Corse GTEP Retired
39. #88 Porsche Team Felbermayr-Proton GTEP Retired
40. #42 HPD Strakka Racing LMP2 Retired
41. #60 Aston Gulf AMR Middle East GTEA Retired
42. #39 Lola PeCom Racing LMP2 Retired
43. #89 Ferrari Hankook Team Farnbacher GTEP Retired
44. #58 Ferrari Luxury Racing GTEP Retired
45. #64 Lotus Lotus Jetalliance GTEP Retired
46. #57 Ferrari Krohn Racing GTEA Retired
47. #24 OAK OAK Racing LMP1 Retired
48. #1 Audi Audi Sport Team Joest LMP1 Retired
49. #5 Oreca Hope Racing LMP1 Retired
50. #62 Ferrari CRS Racing GTEA Retired
51. #15 OAK OAK Racing LMP1 Retired
52. #79 Aston Jota GTEP Retired
53. #20 Zytek Quifel-ASM Team LMP1 Retired
54. #3 Audi Audi Sport North America LMP1 Retired
55. #007 AMR-One Aston Martin Racing LMP1 Retired
56. #009 AMR-One Aston Martin Racing LMP1 Retired

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