Monday, June 16, 2014

13 Wins in 15 Years - Audi

It was quite a memorable 24 Hours at Le Mans.  All three podium finishers had major mechanical failures or accidents during the grueling race.  From the start, the race was full of surprises.  With only a 20% chance of rain, a downpour hit only 90 minutes into the race causing a melee on the track. The #3 Audi was lost in an accident and the very fast #8 Toyota of Davidson/Lapierre/Buemi had a serious wreck, but the pit crew was able to get it back out on the track and racing.

Midway through the race, the #7 Toyota was running extremely fast and had a nearly a one lap lead, but it just would not be for the Japanese entrant.   Shortly after the 12 hour point, a wiring loom problem retired the Toyota.   "It tears my heart out...I don't know what to say," was all that driver Kazuki Nakajima could muster. 

It then appeared again to be the year of Audi – possibly it’s 13th victory in the last 15 races.  The mighty R-18 e-trons were clicking off the laps in stoic Germanic style.  But at around 6:00 am, the No. 2 Audi was in first place and experienced turbo problems, conceding the lead to the #1 Audi.  Then, at around 11:00 am, the #1 came to a complete stop on the Mulsanne.  It moved again again, then slowed again.  The Audi went into the pits.  It was turbo problems again.

Could it be the the Porsche 919s on their debut race could take the overall win?  They certainly looked strong in qualifying, but we all know what the grueling sieve of the 24Heures du Mans can do to a nw car.  The #20 LMP1 car was three laps down when the Audi went to the pits and now it held the overall lead.  

With only two hours remaining could Timo Bernhard hold on?  On lap 339, the Porsche headed for the pits with what was reported a slow puncture.  The #2 Audi then claimed the lead with Lotterer at the helm.  He pitted for fuel only on lap 343 in order to widen the lead before handing off to Webber who brought it home for the win.  The #1 Audi finished 2nd and the #7 Toyota a distant 3rd.

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