Audi Wins 12th Le Mans in 14 years; Kristensen Wins Record 8th Victory

(Image courtesty of Audi/Joest)

90th Le Mans Overshadowed By Fatality

LE MANS, FRANCE -RIS- In its 90-year history, the 24-Hours of Le Mans endurance car race has had its share of drama, and this edition was no less so.

The race opened with Dane Allan Simonsen’s fatal accident at Tertre Rouge, but ended in a record-setting win for Audi - the second in a row for the R18 e-tron quattro and the 12th since the marque’s first win here at the Circuit de le Sarthe in 2000.

And standing another victory taller was another Dane, Tom Kristensen, who won Le Mans as a co-driver for the record ninth time, further distancing himself from such Le Mans legends as Jackie Ickx and Derek Bell.


Kristensen was joined on the top step of the podium by fellow Audi #2 co-drivers Loïc Duval of France and Allan McNish of Great Britain. This is third Le Mans win for McNish. The popular Scotsman won previously in 1998 with Porsche, and again ten years later with Audi (with Kristensen and Rinaldo Capello as his co-drivers).

The Toyota TS030 Hybrids performed well, and gave the Audis great trouble through the race, but the #2 kept pressure on the Toyotas, and took the lead at 9:43 p.m., almost seven hours into the race, and never looked back.

The #8 Toyota of Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi and Stephane Sarrazin finished second - a solid performance for the new hybrid - a lap down to the #2.

The #3 Audi rounded out the top LMP1 finishers, taking the third step on the podium. Her co-drivers were Lucas Di Grassi, Marc Gene and Oliver Jarvis. The #3 was on the same lap as the second-place #8.

Rules changes prior to the race (a common occurrence at Le Mans) led to compromises in the Audi’s remarkable hybrid energy diesel fuel mileage, forcing them to pit two laps earlier per stint than their Toyota rivals.

Regardless, the trio of #2 drivers kept the pressure on, completing 348 laps at an average speed of 241.4 kph (150 mph).

Winners of the LMP2 class (7th overall) were #35 Morgan-Nissan, entered by Oak Racing and piloted by former Indy car driver Bertrand Baguette, Ricardo Gonzalez and Martin Plowman (a former Indy Lights driver for Andretti Autosport).

The two winners in the GT classes were the #92 Team Manthey Porsche 911 RSR (LM GTE Pro, 16th overall), driven by Marc Lieb, Richard Lietz and Romain Dumas, and the #76 IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (LM GTE Am, 26th overall), driven by Frenchmen Raymond Narac, Christopher Bourret and Jean-Karl Vernay.

The death of Danish Aston Martin driver Allan Simonsen cast a shadow over this rainy Le Mans edition. The Danish flag flew at half-staff on the victory podium.

Kristensen remembered his late competitor after the race.

“(My father) can wait for the next victory of mine,” Kristensen said of his win. “This victory today I dedicate to Allan Simonsen, a great fellow Dane.”

The sentiment was echoed by Audi leadership.

“Obviously, this horrible incident dampens the joy about another great Le Mans victory for Audi in which our team and our drivers were under extreme tension for 24 hours and couldn’t make any mistakes,” commented Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich.

Simonsen’s death was the first at Le Mans since 1997, when Sebastien Enjolras died in a pre-qualifying accident in his Peugeot.

The last race fatality was in 1986, when Jo Gartner died on the Mulsanne Straight when his Porsche 962 hit the retaining barrier, breaking his neck.

“We were all completely shocked by the news of Allan Simonsen’s death. During his career, he also contested races in the Audi R8 LMS. Our sympathy primarily goes to his family and friends but to the team of Aston Martin as well. It shows that you must never stop doing whatever is possible for safety in motorsport. This is the first fatal accident we’ve had to witness in 15 Le Mans years. I hope it’ll remain the last.”

Tom Beeler

Has been a contributor to RIS since 1992. He was invited to join the staff as a full-time reporter/editor in 1995. Tom has reported on IndyCar, Formula 1, NASCAR and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In addition to his RIS work, Tom has been a contributor for General Motors, Nissan, Toyota and the ACO.

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Volume 2013, Issue 6, Posted 7:27 PM, 06.23.2013