The Ingolstadt manufacturer racks up its 13th victory at La Sarthe after a tense battle with Toyota and Porsche
Matt Burt
15 June 2014

Audi has taken its 13th victory at a thrilling Le Mans 24 Hours after a strong challenge from Porsche and Toyota ended when the lead cars from both manufacturers hit trouble on Sunday morning.

The number two Audi R18 E-tron Quattro of Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoit Tréluyer finished first in the endurance race, ahead of the number one sister car of Lucas di Grassi, Marc Gené and Tom Kristensen.

For most of the race Toyota's TS040 Hybrid appeared to have the advantage over Audi and Porsche on raw pace, but the number eight car was caught up in a dramatic multi-car accident during a heavy rain storm on Saturday afternoon.

The same incident accounted for the number three Audi of Felipe Albuquerque, Marco Bonanomi and Oliver Jarvis after it was struck from behind by a GT car at high-speed.

Unlike the Audi, the Japanese machine was able to continue after repairs in the pits, and Anthony Davidson, Nicolas Lapierre and Sébastien Buemi recovered to claim third place by the end.

The number seven Toyota, which had qualified on pole position, led for most of the night in the hands of Alexander Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin and Kazuki Nakajima, but it fell victim to an electrical malady in the early hours of Sunday.

Porsche's number 20 car, driven by Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Mark Webber, traded the lead with the number two Audi on Sunday morning, but shortly after Webber had climbed aboard the 919 Hybrid, an engine problem forced him to bring the car back into the pits, where it was retired.

That left the number two Audi in the lead ahead of the number one car. The latter car's performance was remarkable considering the car had to be completely rebuilt after Loïc Duval had an enormous accident at the Porsche Curves in practice. Duval was ruled unfit to start by Le Mans officials, and Gené was drafted in to substitute for him.

The number 14 Porsche of Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb finished the race in 11th position, having been delayed by fuel flow problems in the early stages of the event and further mechanical issues in the closing stages of the event.

Victory in the LMP2 category went to the Jota Sport Zytek-Nissan of Simon Dolan, Harry Tincknell and Oliver Turvey.

Ferrari won the GTE Pro class, with the AF Corse entry of Gianmaria Bruni, Giancarlo Fisichella and Toni Vilander taking the spoils in their 458 Italia.

GTE Am fell to Aston Martin. The factory-entered car of David Heinemeier Hansson, Kristian Poulsen and Nicki Thiim was first home in their Vantage V8.

Follow the links below for Autocar's 2014 Le Mans 24 Hours blogs:

Le Mans blog - the loneliness of the long-distance racing driver

Le Mans blog - an unexpected introduction to the Porsche Carrera Cup

Le Mans blog - Porsche and Toyota might be quick, but will they last?

Le Mans blog - Audi might have more than just experience going for it

Le Mans blog - Nissan's trail-blazing ZEOD RC and its all-electric lap

Le Mans blog - seven hours in the saddle of a new Audi A3 saloon

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Comments
19

15 June 2014
An enthralling race. So gutted for Porsche, could so nearly have been a fairy tale ending upon their return to the top category of Le Mans after a 16 year absence, but they retired from the lead with an hour and a half to go. Questions for Toyota though, they had the quickest car and although the No 8 car crashed in spectacular style and had to be repaired, this should have been a race they should have won after their 3rd consecutive attempt since they re-entered sportscar racing in 2012. This follows a trend with their previous efforts since 1992 with the TS010 and TS020, all of which were the fastest cars when they competed, but none won. And perhaps Porsche and Toyota should have fielded 3 cars, which in a way assisted in Audi claiming their record-equaling 11th win as a team and their 13th win as a manufacturer, and all achieved in only 16 consecutive years since they first entered Le Mans. A phenomenal record. And another race where a Ferrari punts off a sports-prototype at very high speed!

15 June 2014
I'm not surprised Porsche expired given their questionable reliability, which has been exposed by the 911 GT3's engine fires, while the V4 configuration used in the 919 is flawed. And Audi's success has been primarily down to the hybrid system used, which is a Williams system. so a British company was instrumental in Audi's wins.

15 June 2014
Roadster wrote:

I'm not surprised Porsche expired given their questionable reliability, which has been exposed by the 911 GT3's engine fires, while the V4 configuration used in the 919 is flawed. And Audi's success has been primarily down to the hybrid system used, which is a Williams system. so a British company was instrumental in Audi's wins.

I believe there have only been 2 fires, and Porsche to their credit have taken the step of replacing the engines in all cars sold to that point. As to the flawed V4 configuration, I bow to your superior engineering knowledge. I do find it incredible that Porsche's engineers, presumably all University trained, highly experienced and with extensive supercomputer modelling tools at their disposal made such a glaring error. Perhaps you should contact them directly to point out their mistake and offer your services as a consultant.

 

16 June 2014
Leslie Brook wrote:

I believe there have only been 2 fires, and Porsche to their credit have taken the step of replacing the engines in all cars sold to that point. As to the flawed V4 configuration, I bow to your superior engineering knowledge. I do find it incredible that Porsche's engineers, presumably all University trained, highly experienced and with extensive supercomputer modelling tools at their disposal made such a glaring error. Perhaps you should contact them directly to point out their mistake and offer your services as a consultant.

Many years ago at one of the biggest automotive conferences in the world (for presenting research papers) I met a few people from Porsche. I was very impressed with their engineering talents. I got shown a suspension arm which had absolutely no weight to it at all. It was very impressive! So like yourself I'm surprised they've messed up so badly on the V4 engine and hope that Roadster is able to put them back on track again.

17 June 2014
They are just massive trolls

15 June 2014
As was the Bosch electric motors the hybrid system was linked to and the 530 odd bhp engine and car that audi designed and the complete race strategy that the team employed.
The hybrid system was but one component of a complete package and every component in the car and its manufacturer was instrumental to the win so let's not get all jingoistic and say this was a British win

15 June 2014
Some triumph. This is like CSKA Moscow "beating" Chelsea - the owner chooses which of his clubs he would like to win.

15 June 2014
Norma Smellons wrote:

Some triumph. This is like CSKA Moscow "beating" Chelsea - the owner chooses which of his clubs he would like to win.

Are you suggesting Porsche's demise was a deliberate act by the VW Group?

15 June 2014
Not too keen om the LM prototype class...happy to see Aston and Ferrari do so well.

15 June 2014
"You might think that. I couldn't possibly comment."

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