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Although Toyota kept the pressure on for most of the race, Audi continued its long run of dominance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, winning the overall title at the endurance classic for the 12th time this millennium: After capturing the race in 2000 with an Audi R8, the automaker won again with the same car in 2001 and 2002. Audi then began a streak of five victories in a row in 2004, with two private R8 teams winning in 2004 and 2005, and the factory-supported Audi R10 TDI doing the honors diesel-style from 2006-2008. Now, following two more TDI titles in 2010 and 2011, the Audi R18 e-tron quattro has relied on a combination of hybrid power and the brand’s innovative all-wheel-drive technology to claim the checkered flag in 2012 and 2013.
“We owe the 12th victory of our brand at Le Mans to the consistent, innovative spirit of our engineers, the unconditional commitment of the entire team and the skills and strong nerves of our drivers. On behalf of Audi, I extend my sincere congratulations on this success to all of them,” said Rupert Stadler, chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG. “This marks another great success for Audi in which our hybrid system again prevailed and new technologies, which our customers will also benefit from in the future, were tested.”
Driving the winning car this year were Loic Duval, Tom Kristiansen, and Allan McNish, who enjoyed their first, ninth and third Le Mans victories, respectively.
Audi also joined with the rest of the motorsports world in recognizing Alan Simonsen, a former Audi driver who died while competing for Aston Martin in this year’s event.
“Obviously, this horrible incident dampens the joy about another great Le Mans victory for Audi,” said Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, head of Audi Motorsport. Our sympathy primarily goes to his family and friends but to the team of Aston Martin as well.”
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2013 Le Mans: Nissan Powers First Five LMP2 Finishers
Now, as motorsports mavens likely know, there are currently four vehicle classifications at Le Mans, and Audi and Toyota certainly had their way with the top LMP1 class. In addition to winning the race outright, as Audi R18 e-tron quattro also finished third and fifth, while the Toyota Racing team’s two TS030 Hybrids were in second and fourth.
But in the LMP2 classification, it was (almost) all Nissan. Led by OAK Racing, which ran 1-2 in the class, the first five LMP2 finishers all relied on Nissan engines, and so did eight of the top 10 cars in the category. Also, the automaker’s factory-backed efforts, with G-Drive Racing and Greaves Motorsport, were third and fourth in LMP2, and they finished ninth and 10th overall in the race.
“We lost three laps in the night as we had to fix the number panel on the car,” explained Roman Rusinov, who drove for G-Drive along with John Martin and Mike Conway. “Then we finished just over a lap behind the winner. We were very fast but that’s racing. We are very competitive this year and we wanted to win but after such a tough race today we had a real feeling of ‘we made it!’ when we were up on the podium after the race.”
At Greaves Motorsport, the big news was the performance of Jann Mardenborough, the former Nissan GT Academy champ who made his Le Mans debut at this year’s race. His take after successfully making the transition from PlayStation pilot to real-life racer: “To be honest I’m disappointed.
“I wanted that podium and we pushed so hard for it but it wasn’t to be. The last stint was tricky as I had to keep telling myself not to push on the wet tires. I really enjoyed racing here though. When you are on this track, on your own, with new tires and low-ish fuel, it’s incredible.”
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2013 Le Mans: Porsche Celebrates 50 Years, 100 Titles
As a perfectly fitting way to honor the first 50 years of the Porsche 911, the current 911-based track star—the new Porsche 911 RSR—brought home Le Mans victories Nos. 99 and 100 at this year’s race.
The Porsche AG Team Manthey cars ended the 24 hours of competition in first and second in the LMGTE Pro class, ahead of Aston Martin and the last hurrah from the current-generation Chevrolet Corvette C6-ZR1, and the LMGTE Am category was won by the Porsche 911 RSR of the IMSA Performance Matmut team. McDreamy-watchers also will be glad to note that Patrick Dempsey, in his first Le Mans drive in a Porsche, helped his team to a fourth-place LMGTE Am finish, just behind a pair of Ferrari 458 Italia racers.
“We were competitive the entire race,” reported Dempsey. “This is really what you want to be, Patrick [Long] did a great job on his opening stint, Joe [Foster] was incredible in what seemed like every session of his in the rain, and our Porsche from Proton Competition was perfectly prepared. It was just a great race. We came up just a little short on the podium, but we will reach that goal soon enough.”
Added Dr. Wolfgang Porsche, chairman of the Supervisory Board at Porsche AG: “With the 99th and 100th class win and the double victory of the new 911 RSR, this Le Mans 24 hour race was a magnificent success for Porsche. I very much congratulate all those who have contributed.
“Our joy, however, is also mixed with sadness and shock at the death of Allan Simonsen. We have not only lost a passionate racer, but also a good friend of the Porsche motorsport family. He contested his first Le Mans 24 Hours in 2007 with a Porsche. With our works driver Marc Lieb in 2005, he contested two races of the Le Mans Endurance Series in a Porsche as well. Our deepest sympathy goes out to his family as well as the Aston Martin squad and his teammates at this difficult time.”
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