In one of the most exciting 24-Hour Le Mans races in history, Audi Sport clinched places three and four in the final seconds, just behind Toyota and Porsche.
This was one of the most exciting races in a very long time and featured one of the most crushing defeats for a racing team in Le Mans history. The #5 Toyota car was in position to bring home the gold, as it had done more trouble-free laps than any other team, but suffered failure and stopped on the track within the final three minutes and twenty seconds. The failure of the #5 Toyota car allowed for the #2 Porsche 919 car to take the victory, the #6 Toyota to take second place and the #8 Audi R18 to get third place.
It was one of the most thrilling races we’ve ever seen and one of the most incredible endings. Unfortunately for Audi, its cars suffered quite a few issues throughout the course of the race but managed to still place on the podium thanks to a serious failure of the #5 Toyota TS050.
This makes this the 18th podium in succession, including 13 overall victories, in its 18 Le Mans participation since the brand’s Le Mans debut in 1999. While that’s astonishingly impressive, it comes as a bitter-sweet finish, as Audi needed a last-minute breakdown by Toyota to place on the podium. Audi’s car just had too many issues throughout the 24 hour race.
“Unfortunately, neither of our two cars made it over the distance without issues,” said Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “This weekend once more showed why Le Mans is regarded as the world’s toughest endurance race. I’m proud of our squad having managed to bring both cars home. But, obviously, this is not the result we were hoping for. Congratulations to Porsche on their second victory in succession. Following a tremendous race, Toyota, on making their 18th attempt, again just barely missed finally winning Le Mans – that speaks volumes about how incredibly difficult this race is.”
What makes these issues even more disappointing was how well the Audi team was doing up until they encountered problems. The #7 Audi R18 car, driven by André Lotterer, was actually in first place after only a few laps. However, the #7 R18 needed to pit to have a turbocharger changed out, costing it the lead. After that, a mere hours away from the end of the race Sunday morning, the #8 Audi R18, which was only less than two laps behind the leaders, suffered a brake disc failure and needed to pit, dropping it back twelve laps with four hours left.
While these issues cost Audi a first place finish, the Audi Sport team still gained valuable points for the season and did place on the podium for the 18th consecutive time. Audi will look to improve its placement at the 6-hour race at the Nurburgring on July 24.