The Audi n° 2, driven by Fässler, Lotterer and Tréluyer, on its road to victory...
The Le Mans 24 hours race has always inspired me, and I still vividly remember the 2002 race, where I was invited to drive to the race at the wheel of a Bentley Mulsanne Turbo, and witness, of course, an Audi victory, albeit viewing it from the rooftop of the Bentley stand.
But this time the stakes were even higher for Audi, and their win was even more dramatic…
Hans Knol ten Bensel
Audi n° 2 took the lead already in the early stages of the race...
Dramatic it was indeed. Audi had lost two of its Audi R18 TDI cars as early as in the first third of the race due to accidents.
All hopes were frome then on pinned on car number “2” that had proven to be the fastest in qualifying. Now during 16 hours Fässler, Lotterer and Tréluyer were on their own in the battle against three factory-fielded Peugeot cars, and it proved a fierce battle indeed.
The drivers Fässler, Lotterer and Tréluyer in the historic parade the day before the race ...
On Sunday morning the four quickest vehicles were still within just a few seconds of each other at the front of the field. The lead kept changing, also as a result of the different pit strategies. The Fässler, Lotterer and Tréluyer Audi was clearly the fastest car.
Tréluyer showing proudly the tablet of fastest qualifying time
in the historic parade prior to the race...
At 3m 25.289s André Lotterer on the 229th race lap even managed to beat the fastest time set in qualifying!
This speed was needed, as a problem with the fuel tank caused a bit of a headache for Head ofAudi Motorsport Dr.Wolfgang Ullrich and the Technical Director of Audi Sport Team Joest, Ralf Jüttner.
The full 65-liter capacity could not be used. This meant that André Lotterer had to achieve a sufficient lead for an additional refueling stop in the final phase of the race, on a slippery track due to drizzling rain.
After the final stop Lotterer started his last stint with a seven-second advantage over the second-placed Peugeot.
In the end he crossed the finish line after 24 hours being frenetically cheered by his team colleagues Marcel Fässler and Benoît Tréluyer and the entire Audi squad in first place with a lead of 13.420 seconds.
The winning car, accompanied by the team pit crew to the honours' platform...
The three Audi drivers who had finished as the runners-up last year this marked the firstLe Mans exploit – and the tenth for Audi.
We let you enjoy some photos of the drivers’ parade, press conference and ther race, with more soon to follow on these pages… and don’t forget, I tested for you the 185 hp A1, more of this test soon!
Hans Knol ten Bensel