Audi dominate Le Mans
German marque completes podium clean sweep in 24 hour race
Last Updated: 27/09/12 2:11pm
The winning Audi of Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer
Audi produced a dominant display at Le Mans claiming all three podium places in the 80th edition of the 24 hour race.
Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer repeated last year's success in the number one e-tron Quattro hybrid car, winning by over a lap from the sister car driven by Allan McNish, Tom Kristensen and Rinaldo Capello.
The R18 Ultra of Marci Bonanomi, Oliver Jarvis and Mike Rockenfeller finished on the final step of the podium while the second R18 Ultra was fifth, behind the number 12 Lola-Toyota.
Despite a number of dramas the Audi's remained largely untroubled at the head of the field after their main threat, that of the Toyota Racing TS030 hybrid, lost both of their cars before the halfway stage.
The number one car led for much of the opening half of the race but the two e-tron Quattros played cat-and-mouse through the night with the lead switching several times.
This left both cars in with a chance of victory once the sun rose but in the light of day the leaders found themselves beset by a number of minor incidents.
With four hours to go Capello pitted and switched with McNish who exited the pits and fed back onto the track less than three seconds behind Treluyer in the leading e-tron Quattro.
When Treluyer made a scheduled stop McNish took over control of the race with the problems continuing for the number one car as it spun when entering the pit lane.
But, with less than three hours remaining, McNish ended up in the barriers at the Porsche curves as he looked to build a lead.
As a result he fell a lap behind the number one car and the safety car was required to clear the debris and fix the shunted barrier.
Audi's other entry, the R18 Ultra, performed well but was also prone to accidents, with the number four car of Bonanomi, Jarvis and Rockenfeller finishing a distant third.
The Rebellion Racing Lola-Toyota car of Nick Heidfeld, Neel Jani and Nicolas Prost kept its' nose clean throughout the race and came home in a well-deserved fourth place, with the sister car finishing 11th. British duo Ryan Dalziel and Tom Kimber-Smith, along with Venezuela's Vincente Potolicchio, won the LMP2 class race in Starworks Motorsport's Honda.
Martin Brundle, who won the overall race in 1990, was racing at Le Mans for the first time in 11 years with his son Alex and Spaniard Lucas Ordonez in LMP2 and finished a respectable eighth in class.
The AF Corse Ferrari, driven by ex-Formula one driver Giancarlo Fisichella with Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander, won the LMGTE class by a considerable margin.
Anthony Davidson was involved in a massive accident during the opening quarter of the race which left the British driver with a broken back.
The 33-year-old was clipped by the LMPGTE Ferrari driven by Italy's Piergiuseppe Perazzini and crashed heavily into the barrier after a spectacular mid-air flip.
Perazzini walked away from the accident but Davidson was treated by medical staff at the scene and after being taken to the local hospital it was later confirmed he had broken two vertebrae.