There’s no denying it; Audi are flipping brilliant. The R18 E-Tron LMP1 is as devastatingly unbeatable as its predecessor despite the new tech. And once again, Audi has dominated the famous Le Mans 24-hour race in a breathtakingly off-hand fashion. Whilst some that are involved in the race resent the enormous resources behind the team, not a single person I have spoken to in or outside the racing fraternity, thinks that Audi doesn’t deserve the wins.
But there’s not a lot of love for them either. Not because anyone thinks they don’t deserve the success they’re having, rather because everyone is bored of the predictability of it. People are fed up of seeing the same team win year after year – I’ve visited the event every year since 2006 and the most thrilling by far was when Peugeot provided genuine rivalry for them, and even beat them once.
So it really was a bitter disappointment when a Toyota made contact with the extravagant and very exciting Nissan DeltaWing – putting the latter out of the race and the Toyota that had taken the lead from Audi way down the order. It eventually suffered terminal mechanical failure.
Truthfully I doubt that Toyota could have won this year even if they hadn’t had the bad luck they did suffer from. But I do think they can provide the desperately needed competition for Audi. Toyota has the resources, the know-how and the budget to do it. I’m 100 per cent behind them. It’s just not healthy for any international motorsport event to be so heavily dominated by one brand. Plus, it’s been so refreshing to see Toyota do some exciting stuff recently.
Tell you what, maybe Nissan should join in, too. They’ve thrown a lot of effort into it this year, almost matching Audi for branding and advertising efforts around the circuit, so it’s not a big jump to imagine a works LMP1 team. Then we really would have a proper race.
And another thing: Had the wicked-looking Nissan DeltaWing not made contact, I wonder if it would have finished? It looked strong, and it was a huge favourite with the spectators. I wish Nissan a lot of luck with it. Hopefully it'll be back next year...