Audi took positions three and four in the 24-hour race at Le Mans in front of 263,500 spectators, continuing its string of podium finishes in the iconic French endurance race.
In a dramatic race that was only decided on the last lap, Lucas di Grassi (BR), Loïc Duval (F) and Oliver Jarvis (GB) clinched third place for Audi at the last moment. Marcel Fässler (CH), André Lotterer (D) and Benoît Tréluyer (F) finished in position four. With that, Audi, in its 18th participation since the brand’s Le Mans debut in 1999, achieved its 18th podium in succession including 13 overall victories.
The weekend demonstrated why the Le Mans is regarded as the toughest race as neither of the two cars made it over the distance without experiencing issues. Obviously this wasn't the ideal result that Audi were hoping for however the team managed to bring both cars home and achieved a podium finish. Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich congratulated Porsche on their second victory in succession. Following a tremendous race, Toyota, on making their 18th attempt, just barely missed finally winning Le Mans – that speaks volumes about how incredibly difficult this race is.
Due to heavy rainfalls, the field started behind the safety car for the first time in Le Mans history. Following the all-clear for the race, it took André Lotterer only a few laps to advance from grid position five to first place. However, the #7 Audi R18 lost its chance for victory as early as in the second hour when Lotterer, while leading the race, had to pit for a change of the turbocharger.
From this point on, Audi Sport Team Joest’s hopes were pinned on the #8 Audi R18 which, in spite of various incidents, kept pace with the group of the front runners throughout the night and, on Sunday morning, trailed the subsequent winners with a gap of less than two laps. A defective brake disc caused the deficit to increase to twelve laps four hours before the end of the race. As a precaution, the front brake discs were subsequently changed on the #7 “sister” car.
Consequently, Audi still achieved its aim in bringing both new cars home and to score valuable points for the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) that will continue with the 6-hour race at the Nürburgring in Germany on July 24.