Andre Lotterer has brought home a famous victory for Audi and his co-drivers Bernoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler in the 2011 Le Mans 24 Hours.
The team which lost its #1 and #3 entries to heavy accidents early on, beat its leading Peugoet rival by just 13s after an absorbing race-long battle.
Lotterer took the wheel with 3 hours and 40 mins remaining after an unprecedented five-stint run from Treluyer, and kept his nerve despite intermittent rain and a charging Simon Pagenaud in the #9 entry.
Pagenaud trailed Lotterer by just 6.5s after the pair pitted together with just over half an hour remaining, before the Audi driver pulled away during the final stint thanks to his team’s decision to take new tyres.
The two cars had swapped the lead continuously throughout the race as the surviving Audi proved faster but less fuel efficient than its French rivals.
Nicolas Minassian brought the #8 Peugeot home third, two laps down on the winner, ahead of Marc Gene in the sister #7 car.
Car #8 was delayed momentarily by brake issues before nightfall on Saturday, and fell further behind when handed a 60s stop-go penalty for a pitstop infringement in the early morning. A gamble on intermediate tyres in the closing stages failed to pay dividends for the all-French line-up.
Car #7 remained in contention until Hour 19 when Alexander Wurz made contact with the barriers at Indianapolis – dropping the car four laps that it would never recover.
The #7 and #8 Peugoets were both involved in questionable manoeuvres in the final hours, as the lapped entries slowed the #2 Audi where possible in order to help their team-mate’s cause.
The Team Oreca Matmut Peugeot fought back from a night-time crash to take fifth place, ahead of the #12 Rebellion Racing Lola-Toyota and the #22 Kronos Racing Lola-Aston Martin.
Eighth outright and first in LMP2 was the Graeves Motorsport Zytek-Nissan, which ended the 24 Hours six laps ahead of the #26 Signatech Oreca-Nissan. The #33 Level 5 Motorsports Lola-HPD was third in class and 10th outright, a further lap adrift of the Signatech entry.
Corvette Racing recovered from seeing its #74 car crash out of the lead in GTE Pro during the morning to take the win with its #73 entry, after Antonio Garcia managed to hold off Giancarlo Fisichella in the AF Corse Ferrari in the final stint.
A Corvette also took out GTE Am, thanks to the efforts of Labre Competition. The French team took a class one-two as its Porsche survived a spin in the final 10 minutes at Arnage to secure second in class.
The race will forever be remembered for the monumental accidents that saw the retirement of the #1 and #3 Audis after separate collisions with GTE Ferraris. Thankfully drivers Allan McNish and Mike Rockenfeller were both able to walk away from the high-speed crashes.
Jean-Christophe Boullion also crashed heavily during the race – ending the #13 Rebellion Racing Lola-Judd’s race in the Porsche Curves during Hour 14.
The Pescarolo squad took the hardest blow of the day however, with Emmanuel Collard crashing the team’s #16 car out of a long-standing fifth place in the final hour as the track became damp.
CLICK HERE for more on McNish’s crash.
CLICK HERE for more on Rockenfeller’s crash.
CLICK HERE for Speedcafe.com’s Hour 18 race update.
CLICK HERE for Speedcafe.com’s Hour 12 race update.
CLICK HERE for Speedcafe.com’s Hour 6 race update.
See below for the full result
|1||#2||Audi||Audi Sport Team Joest||LMP1|
|2||#9||Peugeot||Team Peugeot Total||LMP1||+ 13.854|
|3||#8||Peugeot||Peugeot Sport Total||LMP1||+ 2 Laps|
|4||#7||Peugeot||Peugeot Sport Total||LMP1||+ 4 Laps|
|5||#10||Peugeot||Team Oreca-Matmut||LMP1||+ 16 Laps|
|6||#12||Lola||Rebellion Racing||LMP1||+ 17 Laps|
|7||#22||Lola||Kronos Racing||LMP1||+ 27 Laps|
|8||#41||Zytek||Greaves Motorsport||LMP2||+ 29 Laps|
|9||#26||Oreca||Signatech Nissan||LMP2||+ 35 Laps|
|10||#33||Lola||Level 5 Motorsports||LMP2||+ 36 Laps|
|11||#73||Corvette||Corvette Racing||GTEP||+ 41 Laps|
|12||#36||HPD||RML||LMP2||+ 41 Laps|
|13||#51||Ferrari||AF Corse||GTEP||+ 41 Laps|
|14||#49||OAK||OAK Racing||LMP2||+ 42 Laps|
|15||#56||BMW||BMW Motorsport||GTEP||+ 42 Laps|
|16||#77||Porsche||Team Felbermayr-Proton||GTEP||+ 43 Laps|
|17||#76||Porsche||IMSA Performance Matmut||GTEP||+ 44 Laps|
|18||#80||Porsche||Flying Lizard Motorsports||GTEP||+ 45 Laps|
|19||#40||Oreca||Race Performance||LMP2||+ 51 Laps|
|20||#50||Corvette||Larbre Competition||GTEA||+ 53 Laps|
|21||#70||Porsche||Larbre Competition||GTEA||+ 54 Laps|
|22||#65||Lotus||Lotus Jetalliance||GTEP||+ 60 Laps|
|23||#75||Porsche||Prospeed Competition||GTEP||+ 62 Laps|
|24||#66||Ferrari||JMW Motorsport||GTEP||+ 65 Laps|
|25||#35||OAK||OAK Racing||LMP2||+ 67 Laps|
|26||#68||Ford||Robertson Racing||GTEA||+ 70 Laps|
|27||#83||Ferrari||JMB Racing||GTEA||+ 83 Laps|
|28||#44||Norma||Extr||LMP2||+ 108 Laps|
|32||#81||Porsche||Flying Lizard Motorsports||GTEA||Retired|
|41||#60||Aston||Gulf AMR Middle East||GTEA||Retired|
|43||#89||Ferrari||Hankook Team Farnbacher||GTEP||Retired|
|48||#1||Audi||Audi Sport Team Joest||LMP1||Retired|
|54||#3||Audi||Audi Sport North America||LMP1||Retired|
|55||#007||AMR-One||Aston Martin Racing||LMP1||Retired|
|56||#009||AMR-One||Aston Martin Racing||LMP1||Retired|