Audi extend Le Mans domination with 12th victory

Le Mans 24 Hours

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Audi vanquished Toyota for the second year in a row to claim their 12th victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours.

But the race was overshadowed by a crash in the early stages which claimed the life of Aston Martin driver Allan Simonsen.

Simonsen’s fellow Dane Tom Kristenson was part of the driving trio on the number two Audi R18 e-tron quattro, increasing his record of Le Mans triumphs to nine. Allan McNish and Loic Duval shared the winning car.

Audi had the legs of the pursuing Toyotas for much of the race. But early setbacks for cars one and three left number two on its own in the lead.

The number eight Toyota of Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi and Stephane Sarrazin led the chase, seldom much more than a lap behind the lead car. Buemi temporarily unlapped himself from the winner in the closing stages as the last in a series of showers hit the race.

The second Toyota came in fourth having spent half an hour in the pits on Sunday morning after hitting the barriers. The fifth-place Audi also had a lengthy spell in the pits on Saturday due to a failed crankshaft sensor.

The LMP2 and GTE Pro classes saw one-two finishes for OAK Racing and Porsche respectively. Porsche also won the amateur category.

Bertrand Baguette, Ricardo Gonzalez and Martin Plowman claimed victroy in LMP2, completing a lap more than team mates Olivier Pla, Alex Brundle and David Heinemeier Hansson.

Following the tragic loss of Simonsen, Aston Martin remained in close contention for Pro honours. With an hour to go there was little over a second between Porsche and Aston Martin in the Pro category. But a series of pit stops by Stefan Mucke in the rain-hit closing stages saw them fall out of contention.

That left two Porsche 911s at the head of the field, with victory taken by Richard Lietz, Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas. Jean-Karl Vernay, Raymond Narac and Christophe Bourret won the amateur category.

But after the events of Saturday the sense of loss hung heavily over the race. A moment’s reflection and round of applause for Simonsen’s memory was held before the podium ceremony began. Kristensen dedicated his victory to the man he called “a great fellow Dane”.

Image © Audi

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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43 comments on “Audi extend Le Mans domination with 12th victory”

  1. RIP Allan Simonsen… a unforgettable weekend, for the wrong reason.

    1. well written, really sas

  2. Crazy, dramatic, eventful and tragic.

    This was a roller coaster of a race. I’ve lost count how many safety cars there was, but it was a record number of them, and a record time spent behind the safety car and I believe one of the fewest retirements. Some mad periods with rain and mixed conditions, the Audi’s proving they are not completely infallible and just hard racing by everyone for the full 24hrs. Michelin has shown that races don’t have to be dominated by the tyre compounds and brought exactly the right types for strategies (but can we please get some “Slickter-mediates in F1!!)

    Congrats to Audi, Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish & Loïc Duval for their win. Well done to Toyota who was a lot better this year and a solid platform to move from for next year.

    But it was terribly sad that Allan Simonsen was cruelly killed from his crash in the opening laps of the race, which makes everything else before & after this weekend just seem insignificant. A shame that Aston Martin couldn’t bring home the GTE Pro win in his memory. RIP Allan.

    1. I think tere was 11 sefaty car period @sjm

    2. The hybrid tyre of Michelin is an interesting concept indeed

  3. RIP Allan Simonsen, though thankfully his untimely and tragic death couldn’t ruin an otherwise amazing race that was memorable also for all the right reasons.

  4. It was a fairly good race, Toyota didn’t have the speed to take the fight to Audi, but they remained within reach of the lead Audi throughout which kept some tension for the overall victory.

    I was rooting for the Aston art car to win GTE-Pro but that last rain storm and safety car pretty much ruined it for them, it would have been very close if not for that.

    I have to say even though there wasn’t a huge amount of racing for position during the race, it’s so spectacular watching these three classes of car race around each other, watching the LMP1 cars slicing through the traffic is really mind blowing.

  5. Reasonably enjoyable race, I finally watched the complete triple crown of motorsport this year, well more than half of Le Mans in addition to all of Monaco and Indianapolis makes it close enough!

    Audi Sport is a wonderfully efficient machine of a race organisation isn’t it? Thoroughly deserved 12th victory for the manufacturer and nice to see drivers complete their record 9th, hatrick, and first wins respectively.

    Toyota gave a good fight, and 2nd was about as good as they could have hoped for against the might of three teutonic beasts. Part of me was hoping Anthony Davidson would finally win the race so he doesn’t feel left out during F1 race weekend TV broadcasts, what with his colleagues being Martin Brundle (Jaguar, 1990), Johnny Herbert (Mazda, 1991), Allan McNish (Porsche 1998, Audi 2008, 2013).

  6. I don’t wanna hear another word about how great Jann Mardenborough is.

  7. Still sad about Simonsen. Thoughts are with his family, especially since he has a very young daughter. First time I’ve been watching live while someone had an accident and subsequently died as well, I nearly let a tear when they announced the news..

    The Audi #2 seemed to be unbeatable and Tom Kristensen further solidified his name as Mr. Le Mans. McNish and Duval did excellent as well. It’s a shame Toyota lacked the pace to really battle the #2 Audi, but a good result for them none the less. I do however agree with Dutch Eurosport commentators; Toyota needs a better driver line-up.

    The battle for LMP 2 was a lot of fun to follow as well, even if the cars I was following most closely (The Alpine and Caterham sponsored cars) didn’t do to well. Excellent debut of the new Porsche in GTE Pro, and AF Corse was absolutely nowhere, well, apart from running into Porsche’s in the pit.

    @alfie Ditto. Sure, coming from Gran Turismo to race in Le Mans is impressive, but it doesn’t become more impressive by mentioning it twice every hour.

    1. JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III
      23rd June 2013, 20:12

      who would you replace for toyota? Even nakajima did a comparatively good job i don’t know who hit the barriers in the number 7 because i was asleep at that point, but nakajima was fast during the night. and he is the only weak link in their team.

      1. Lapierre put it in the barriers, it was just as the rain started though so you can hardly blame him for that.

        1. I’m not saying the current drivers didn’t do a good job or aren’t good drivers. Toyota needs at least one car with drivers who can rival one of the Audi teams in experience and speed. Wurz and Sarrazin did fine, even if Wurz seemed a little slow compated to his Peugeot days. Don’t forget how valuable experience is, and how much guys like Kristensen, McNish, Fässler, Wurz, Tréluyer, Magnussen benefit from it. But speed in a driver like Jani also seems to lack a little.

          I’m not saying the Toyota drivers did a poor job or are bad drivers, I’m only saying their driver line-up could improve.

    2. I reckon the winning Toyota team would be:

      1. JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III
        23rd June 2013, 23:55

        davidson bourdais wurz sarrazin for me i couldn’t choose 3 out of them there all brilliant at lemans. :)

  8. Buemi brought a good drive, good finish for Toyota but still Audi got away, maybe next year will be better

  9. I’m not alone in watching a fatal accident unfold live for the first time. Aside from that there was plenty of good racing throughout the field, especially in GTs with the last remaining GTP Aston fighting the factory Porsches and GTA was close too even if the media were only really interested in ‘that actor bloke’. The rain in the final hour spoilt the battle for the lead in GTE Pro somewhat but to be that close after 24 hours was incredible. I also succeeded in watching the whole 24 hours so that’s something I can tick off.

    The only thing I found annoying was the Eurosport commentary constantly getting things wrong but not all of us are blessed with fast internet connections so it was kind of my only option.

    1. Not sure if you are refering to the UK version of Eurosport, but Carlton Kirby was almost totally useless for the entire time he opened his mouth. Mis-identifying cars, revealing real ignorance and just prattling on . . .
      It wasn’t a *great* race. The appalling death of Alan Simeson served to dampen everyone’s spirits; it seemed that everyone in the race had worked with him or knew him at some point on their career. Very sad for his family and racing in general. Dave Richards looked very upset.
      The sombre mood was enlivened by things like the Ferrari pit stop farce, but were they actually punished for that?
      I was also confused why Nicolas Lapierre wasn’t excluded after burying his Toyota in the tyres and then walking away from the car. I thought you could go no more than 10 metres from the car without being deemed to have retired nd he looked a lot farther away than that when he was with the marshall.
      I had Eurosport coverage on one Monitor, the live timing on the other and F1 Fanatic on the laptop!

      1. Yes I was watching British Eurosport and I agree that I too dislike Carlton Kirby, the man is beyond annoying.

      2. @timothykatz ” I thought you could go no more than 10 metres from the car without being deemed to have retired nd he looked a lot farther away than that when he was with the marshall.”

        Not sure, but I think there may be an exception if you are directed by a marshall to move and he was with a marshall at the time. (they may have wanted to move him from the impact area in case another car went off). Just a thought.

    2. I watched english commentary on EuroSport and it was pretty much like listening to 4 (or something like that) geezers in the pub ranting while you are trying to watch a race. They were constantly just chatting to each other without providing too much insight. I’ve watched maybe 5 hours of the race in total, but that was one of my strongest impressions.

    3. JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III
      23rd June 2013, 20:24

      Was this you lots first lemans? it’s been the same commentary team for a few years now lol. If you dislike them that much there’s always radio lemans. I’d like to see how you guys would do in the commentary box though. Forget not this is a 24 hour race and sometimes there isn’t a heck of alot to talk about they kept abreast of the important strategy points. My only criticism is that *sometimes* not all the time. They need to let each other speak because when 3 of them try to talk about different things you can’t make out what any of them are saying. That however is motor racing…commentary it happens.

      1. I agree.
        It is one thing to stay sharp in the commentary box for 2 hours of an F1 race, that is what you would expect. But they have to talk for 24 hours. A lot of the time there is nearly nothing going on, on the track to talk about. Just cars pounding round, and round and round.

        1. But they were’t talking for 24 hours. As I recall, there were three sets of commentators ‘hot seating’ for about two hours each through the race. Martin Havers was great, but even he mis-identified cars as the race drew to a close. But Kirby seemed to ignore what was going on in the race and what was on the screen in front of him and just prattled over the top of several important developments (please don’t ask for examples, I’m too tired for that!).
          I happen to like cycle racing as well, but I cringe whenever Kirby is doing the commentary. He is clueless.

          1. JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III
            24th June 2013, 0:08

            Get on the phone to eurosport and show us how it’s done next year otherwise sit back and enjoy like the rest of us.

          2. I didn’t get British Eurosport commentary, but the entire ‘don’t criticize unless you can do better thing’ is really immature. He’s giving critique, not saying he could have done better.

          3. @npf1 Thank you.

          4. JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III
            24th June 2013, 8:44

            oh right my bad i’m the big meanie.

            “Carlton Kirby was almost totally useless for the entire time he opened his mouth. Mis-identifying cars, revealing real ignorance and just prattling on . . .”

          5. Still, not any mention of him being able to do better. I’ve called the former commentator on F1 in the Netherlands useless before because he simply said what everyone could see with their eyes on the TV screen. If you can see something happening, you do not need it to be spelled out for you as well.

            I also never called you mean, but maybe you could fit it into your username. ;) (Spoiler: this is a joke)

          6. @timothykatz I had the Europort coverage on for the entire race but turned the sound down and tunes my phone in to Radio Le mans. Perfect combination of good video coverage and unparallelled commentary, interviews and insight.

          7. @ajokay Great idea! Right, that’s me sorted for next year.

  10. I was really impressed by Patrick Dempsey. He came along and he proved that he could absolutely hold his own in the big leagues. Fair play to him.

  11. Michael Brown (@)
    23rd June 2013, 17:37

    Some dope flew the German flag upside down over the top step of the podium.

    Next year, I’m looking forward to what Lotterer, Truleyer, and Fassler can do in addition to the Toyotas. I’m happy Buemi and Di Grassi have found good teams to race in.

    1. You forgot the Porsches!

    2. Some dope flew the German flag upside down over the top step of the podium.

      Same for the Russian flag during the LMP2 ceremony

  12. FlyingLobster27
    23rd June 2013, 18:54

    Am just back home from the track (I live in Brittany) – hadn’t planned on going to the race until a week before, as unbeknownst to be, my girlfriend had entered a competition and won some tickets for me so I couldn’t say no! First time there since 2006, and it’s still great to hear the Corvette V8’s thunder and marvel at how the Audis just whistle by, but I could swear their turbos have got louder since their original Diesel racers.
    I was just before the Esses de la Forêt at the start and saw Lapierre’s move up to third, awesome! The race in itself seemed to have fairly few twists overall – the conjunction of a puncture on #3 and an alternator problem on the #1 sending it from first to last in class was probably the biggest turning point for the front-runners, meaning it was up to #2 to hold off the Toyotas. So congrats to Loïc Duval and Allan McNish, and of course the Great Dane Tom Kristensen on his 9th win, to Audi for their 12th (the match will truly be on between them and Porsche to see if the Rings will tie Porsche’s 13 wins)! What struck me also was the reliability rate: only two cars out before midnight (+ a third that had hardly seen the track but hadn’t yet retired, the #28 Gulf Middle East Lola-Nissan), still nearly 50 cars on track at 7 in the morning and 43 running at the end with 42 cars classified, that’s got to be a record!
    Somewhat surprising result in GTE Pro: I wasn’t sure whether Porsche would figure, let alone get a 1-2! Aston Martin will probably be disappointed with third in class, having seen Fred Mako crash the #99 mid-morning, but most of all they will be saddened, as all race fans are, at the loss of their lead GTE Am driver, Allan Simonsen. I hadn’t seen the crash as I wasn’t in front of a big screen and and there was no worry in the trackside commentaries immediately afterwards, so when a friend away from the track called me with the news, I was taken aback. I gave the news to an uncle I had met up with, and he was saddened too – his daughter being a fan of Aston Martin, he had got the whole team’s driver autographs (except Senna), including Allan’s. Amidst the tragedy, it seems somewhat fitting that the race winning crew should have a Dane and a driver called Allan.

  13. Time to upgrade the Armco to something a little more substantial like the square tubing used on the SAFER Barriers here in the USA.

    The cars have just gotten to the point where they are too heavy & terrible for the flimsy Armco and they just tear right through it. Something more substation like that kind of tubing would stop the cars from tearing through it & if they do punch a small hole in it you can just weld a plate over the hole to patch it.

    They could even go with the full SAFER system if they use a setup similar to the one Pocono Speedway uses on the inside walls where it’s basically metal brackets bolted to a “concrete sidewalk” (for lack of a better description) with the Wall system attached to those brackets. It would essentially be setup like the Armco is now on the public road parts of the track except instead of hammering stakes into the ground for the Armco they would bolt the brackets to a “concrete sidewalk”.

    1. The armco serves a purpose. By deflecting when hit; it means it is absorbing some of the energy of the car that has hit it, which with a more solid barrier the energy would have to be absorbed by the driver. The only problem is it seems to break a lot. I think rather than replacing all the armco, the race organisers need to look at either replacing the armco in the areas where the chance of impact is high, or increasing runoff area, or installing more tyre barriers or techpro barriers in front of the armco. I do not think that the SAFER system would be appropriate though. My understanding is that the SAFER barrier is designed for impacts at certain angles, more side on impact, rather than head on impact, which seems to occur more on road courses.

      1. The SAFER deflects just like Armco, except that it doesn’t tear, rip, shread, whatever.

        At about 20sec into that 2nd video they should a slo-mo replay of the SAFER flexing.

  14. I only got to see hours 2-3 and 20-24, and I must say it was an incredible race, with the exception of the death of Allan Simonsen.
    I hope his death is not in vain and that the safety of the GT cars is increased to similair levels of the LMP cars.
    Rest In Peace

  15. As always I enjoyed the race, but not as much as previous years – naturally what happened to Allan is a major part of that. The dominance of Audi was impressive, but also was the overall level of reliability – as the majority of the retirements were due to accident damage rather than mechanical problem – but that too could be a result of the disjointed nature of the race as cars and components had time to rest for those 5 and a half hours of safety car interruption.

    I think the race itself as a little more subdued than previous years – this being the 5th year I’ve watched the whole thing, and feeling the effects of that today. A large part of that could easily be a consequence of the tragic events earlier in the race – for example when Fisichella was interviewed after completing his first stint in the car, he was visibly shaken by the news and I think that exemplified the mood through the field. Also the fragmented nature of the race through frequent safety cars, barrier repairs and rain showers prevented it gaining any momentum – and even as the final larger shower hit with about 75 minutes left, that only broke up potential battles rather than condense the field.

    Also I agree with the overall sentiment about the commentary team… well Carlton – normally he doesn’t seem too bad – you can understand car misidentification because most of the time I can’t pick out each team and car in most of the classes – but this year he has been a little worse, where it seemed the rest of the crew had to keep covering for his ramblings and comments – although I admit it may have just seemed more frustrating because I was quite tired by the time the race reached Sunday. The only thing that got to me was he kept speculating and effectively guessing how Simonsen’s accident was fatal – citing lack of flex in the barrier and a tree – Aston or the ACO hadn’t released any information to that point – and the team on Sunday asked people not to speculate as there was no official press release. The only rough source was what Oliver Gavin reported from the car behind after he got out of the car. This is the first time I’ve encountered such a tragedy in a live race and I know we all want explanations and answers but throwing out guesses to the world media seemed a little disrespectful.

    1. @mazzaf1

      when Fisichella was interviewed after completing his first stint in the car, he was visibly shaken by the news

      He was, he looked absolutely distraught.

      kept speculating and effectively guessing how Simonsen’s accident was fatal

      Yes I heard this – I couldn’t say for certain which commentator it was – but I was very unhappy about that because they should not speculate about these things for any number of reasons (it’s disrespectful, its distasteful, it could spread false information or prejudice the outcome of an investigation…). At one point one of the other commentators cut him off quite abruptly, pointing out the ACO and Aston Martin hadn’t confirmed anything and they shouldn’t speculate, which is absolutely right.

  16. invisiblekid
    24th June 2013, 22:45

    It goes without saying that the tragic death of Allan Simonsen was terrible and having happened so early in the race did cast a shadow for the rest of the race.

    But I did enjoy the race and the weather added to the tension of “could the No.2 Audi loose it and Toyota win the Le Mans 2013?!” Sadly not, as the Audi team are just sublime in their competence, organisation and TBO driver skills. I would love to see Ant D win, so maybe next year. The they did push the Audi’s very hard, I forget the cars, but I think it was the No2 Toyota was matching Audi No2 lap for lap at one point to one thousandth of a second! Brilliant stuff.

    It was clear the Toyota’s need a quicker car, but then what happens to the (little) fuel advantage? The extra fuel they were allowed seemed to make little difference, only magnified by the fact the Audi’s seemed to get a lap more than expected. I think it proves someone forgot to think Audi would be working on improving MPG.

    Le Mans is such a spectacle that whilst Audi’s domination is all but clear, it’s not quite getting boring just yet. Here’s hoping Porsche and hit the ground running.

    What amazed me was the GT class. So exciting and I so want Aston Martin to get the win, but as mentioned, the rain and pit stop sent them back. Were it not for that, I think they could have taken the Porsche team. As always, the Corvettes sounded just Biblical. I went for the first time in 2011 and I will take the sound of those cars to my death. I cannot wait to go again soon and witness them again.

    Now the one big dampener (sorry), was the safety car. I realise it is surely needed for some accidents, but this year is was painful to watch. It’s over 8miles long, sure parading the cars around it for hours at a ago its a little OTT no? I think something like a new flag or triple yellows or something meaning dead slow near the incident would be enough? Then again, where do you set the green flag after and would it mean doing that lap after lap and having the drivers do restarts lap after lap? Maybe it’s not the answer and maybe we have to have the safety car. The nature of the track I suppose just means we have to put up with it.

    Lastly, I have the night section recorded as I cannot fathom how the hell they drive the cars (P1’s to GT’s) so fast hitting the brake points lap after lap at 200mph is crazy. If I wore a hat, I’d be doffing it to them.

    Roll on next year, where hope beyond hope, I’ll be there in person.

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