Behind his stoic posture, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, head of Audi Motorsport, was very concern. Not only his competitors at Peugeot weren’t letting up, he lost 2 of his 3 Audi R18 TDI, new bastions to lead Audi’s dominance in Le Mans. The worst part, the vehicles were out of commissions due to technical failures but 2 horrific crashes which literally disintegrated each multimillion dollars racers. All happened before the half point mark of 12 hours on the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The first accident occurred right before the hour mark at the start when Allan McNish‘s Audi R18 TDI #3 clipped the front end of a Ferrari 458 Italia GT, drove by Anthony Beltoise. McNish’s Audi spun forward and smashed into the photographers pit barriers, showered them with thousands of debris. When night fell, another Audi R18 TDI became a pile of rubble when Mike Rockenfeller’s #1 car touched another Ferrari GT. While a minor incursion at an average speed, the effects of these “bumps”multiplied a hundred times when cars are at high speed. Rockenfeller lost control of his Audi at the instant and went into the embankment. Miraculously as well as a testament to Audi’s engineering prowess, both drivers walked away from their wrecks.
The pressure was then on Audi R18 TDI #2, piloted by Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer, and Marcel Fassler, who fought for the lead like jet fighters in a dogfight with their counterparts at Peugeot till the end. Car #2 crossed the line and took home the checker flag with a lead of 13.420 seconds ahead of Peugeot. The win marked the 10th victories for Audi since it entered Le Mans 13 years ago. It also put the Ingolstadt-base company on the number 2 spot as the manufacturer with the most wins at Le Mans, right below Porsche‘s 16 wins. Images via: MotorSport