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Number 2 heads Audi 1-2 in Dramatic Le Mans 24 Hours

In a dramatic race full of twists and turns, essentially from the word go, the Le Mans 24 Hours was won again by Audi, this year by the Number 2 car driven by Andre Lotterer, Marcel Fassler and Benoit Treluyer. Rain troubled the race early on as the Great British Summer pounded France twice in the space of a few hours to cause mayhem up and down the Mulsanne Straight. There were some absolutely wonderful fairy-tale stories that were pulled off, and others that so nearly were.

Invitational: Race ends early for ZEOD crew

Early into the race, the innovative ZEOD car, which in the morning warm-up set two records, the first car to reach 300kp/h solely on electricity on the Le Mans circuit, and the first car to set a lap of Le Mans using solely electric power, came to a halt after just five laps with a terminal gearbox issue. It’s unlikely we will see the ZEOD next year, with Nissan in the LMP1 class next year.

LMGTE Am: Aston Martin wins in honour of Simonsen

Early into last year’s race, Dane Allan Simonsen tragically lost his life at the tricky Tertre Rouge corner in the Number 95 Aston, and Aston Martin came ever so close to winning in honour of him last year. With this, I feel that it was right that the Number 95 Aston Martin driven by 3 Danes (two of which were Simonsen’s teammates last year) won the Am class. The car essentially dominated this class following pole-sitter Sam Bird’s early crash. The Aston Martin led for over 200 of the 334 laps it completed, and finished over two laps ahead of the Porsche in second place. It must have been an emotional victory for Nicki Thiim, Kristian Poulsen and David Heinemeier Hansson that is for sure.

LMGTE Pro: Ferrari wins epic four-way showdown

Right until the very last lap, it seemed as if the Pro cars were fighting on the absolute limit. However, it was the Giancarlo Fisichella, Toni Vilander and Gianmaria Bruni Ferrari that came out on top. The Number 51 Ferrari, the Number 97 Aston Martin and the Number 74 Corvette, which saw the three cars essentially glued to each other’s gearboxes throughout the night in a dramatic battle for second place as the Number 98 Aston dominated. This was until the Number 98 had a power steering failure and had to come into the pits, so this battle was for the lead. The Number 97 then had exactly the same issue later into the race and the Corvette dropped off, leaving Ferrari to take the win in the Pro class, ahead of the Corvette one lap back and the Number 92 Porsche 911.

LMP2: Five cars separated by just 2 laps at the line in epic finish

This one really was not over until the last lap. Eventually it was the Number 38 Jota Sport Zytek car driven by Simon Dolan, Harry Tincknell and super-sub Oliver Turvey (who replaced Marc Gene who replaced the injured Loic Duval) who won this fine scrap which was still going on like mad at the 23rd hour. The 35 car driven by Alex Brundle, Jann Mardenborough (who started his career playing Gran Turismo) and Mark Shulzhitskiy suffered a puncture and left the Number 38 and the Number 46 Ligier of Pierre Thiriet, Ludovic Badey and Tristan Gommendy to fight it out hard, with the Number 38 coming out on top with the Number 36 Alpine not far behind.

LMP1: Heartbreak for Porsche as Audi claim 1-2 in crazy race

About an hour into the race, a pattern was emerging with the order being essentially the two Toyotas, followed by the three Audis, followed by the two Porsches followed by the two Rebellions. Some excellent driving by Kazuki Nakajima and Alexander Wurz when the rain came down for the first time saw the Number 7 Toyota maintain the lead it had from pole position. During this batch of rain, disaster struck for both Audi and Toyota as the Number 3 wildcard Audi was caught up in a huge accident with the Number 81 Ferrari, and the championship leading Number 8 Toyota. The Toyota made its way back to the pits but the Number 3 was finished. The other Toyota gradually increased its lead over the two Audis while the Number 8 spent over an hour in the pits.

During the night, the Number 1 Audi was forced to pit to replace fuel injectors and lost a chunk of time. The Number 14 Porsche also suffered issues multiple issues and had two lengthy stops, losing position to a lot of the LMP1 cars. Nine hours into the race, the seemingly invincible Number 7 Toyota came to a halt, ending its race and giving the lead to the Number 2 Audi ahead of the Number 1 and the Number 20 Porsche, driven by Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard. Just one hour later, the Number 2 had to replace a turbocharger and the Number 1 took over the lead until it too suffered a turbo problem after Tom Kristensen stopped on track momentarily, now Porsche led the race on their return to Le Mans!

The Porsche 919 clearly did not have the same speed of the Audi for whatever reason; the Number 2 Audi was closing in at a rate of about four seconds a lap with just a few hours to go, with a two-minute gap to reduce. This was made considerably easier when the Porsche slowed and was forced to pit, due to an anti-roll bar being broken and was retired. Shortly after, the other Porsche was also retired. The Number 2 Audi won the race ahead of the Number 1 and the recovering Number 8 Toyota. The Number 12 Rebellion was fourth and was P1 in the privateer class.


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