The 80th 24 Hours of Le Mans has come to an end, but not without a few crashes and other dramatic moments along the way.
The 80th 24 Hours of Le Mans has come to an end and while there were some dramatic moments, the overall winner didn't shock anyone. If you didn't already know, Peugeot opted not to compete this year, leaving Audi as the only team with recent and significant experience in the world's most exclusive endurance race. As we reported yesterday, two major crashes took place; the first involved the No. 8 Toyota driven by Anthony Davidson and the collision it had with the No. 81 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia piloted by Piergiuseppe Perrazini.
While Davidson was trying to overtake the Ferrari, Perrazini bumped into him just enough to cause a major accident. Davidson fractured two vertebrae. The much publicized Nissan DeltaWing also bought the big one after the Toyota No. 7 TS030 Hybrid crashed into it and sent it into a wall. Speaking of Toyota, now that Peugeot was out of this year's race, many saw that team as the most worthwhile competitor to Audi. However, that was not the case in light of Davidson's crash and the fact that the No. 7 Toyota which crashed into the Nissan, actually ended up stalling in the pit lane.
Mechanics couldn't figure out the exact problem and therefore were forced to retire it from the race. So who was left? Four Audi's looking to claim victory. They included the No. 1 R18 e-tron Quattro that was driven by the winners from last year, Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer, and Marcel Fassler. The No. 2 e-tron Quattro was driven by Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish, and Dindo Capello. The second pair of Audis were diesel-powered R18 ultras, which finished in third and fifth. In the end, however, it was the defending champs who took the checkered flag in their R18 e-tron. This is actually a historic event because it's the first time Le Mans was won by a hybrid-powered car.
In the end, Audi had a fantastic race, taking home first, second, third, and fifth place. Fourth place was taken by the No. 12 Rebellion Racing Lola Toyota. In sixth place was Le Mans newcomer JRM Motorsport with their No. 22 HPD ARX-03b.
The GTE class was once again a battle between Aston Martin, Corvette, Ferrari, and Porsche. Although it was a hard-fought race, Ferrari was the ultimate winner, taking first, second, and fourth place. The No. 74 Corvette had a disappointing race overall due one problem after another, but the No. 73 Corvette managed to pull through without incident. The GTE Am race was turned into a neck-and-neck battle between the No. 50 Larbre Competition Corvette and the No. 67 IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche. However, the former team took home the victory.
All told, there were 21 official retirements and the only major injury was that of Davidson who's reportedly recovering well. The 80th 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race is always accompanied by moments of drama and suspense and this year certainly had both.