The 2014 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans is now in the books. One of the three top contenders won the race as expected… but a whole lot of other things happened too. Here’s the short, short version of events:
Audi took the overall and LMP-1 win with a 1-2 finish, an amazing 13th victory in 16 attempts, though it was not without drama. The third Audi (#3) and #8 Toyota were involved in a crash in wet conditions about 90 minutes into the race. The Audi was unable to continue while the Toyota limped back to the pits and was in the garage for about 50 minutes to repair the damage.
The winning team consisted of Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer in their R18 etron quattro. Le Mans legend Tom Kristensen was part of the team that finished second in the sister Audi after the car experienced turbo problems. His teammates were Lucas Di Grassi and Marc Gene, both ex-F1 drivers.
Gene was called in at the last minute to replace Loic Duval, who was not cleared to race as a precaution following the massive practice crash on Wednesday from which he fortunately emerged largely unscathed.
Toyota’s TS040 hybrid (#8) took third, five laps behind the winning car, after substantial repairs from the early crash. However, its sister car (#7) didn’t make it to the finish after leading for nearly 14 hours from the start before succumbing to a wiring loom issue.
A Toyota prototype driven by the team of Nicholas Prost, Nick Heidfeld and Mathias Beche took fifth overall for Rebellion Racing. Neither Porsche 919 finished on the company’s return to the top class at Le Mans, though the team did lead the race at one point.
The Zytek Nissan of Simon Dolan, Harry Tincknell and Oliver Turvey won LMP-2 and took fifth overall, 23 laps behind the overall winners. Like Gene, Turvey was also called in at the last minute to replace Gene himself, after the latter was drafted by Audi to replace Duval. Nissan powered cars took the top five spots in LMP-2.
AF Corse drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Toni Vilander, and Giancarlo Fisichella won the GTE Pro class, finishing 13th overall in their Ferrari 458 Italia, 40 laps behind the overall winners. They edged out the Chevrolet Corvette C7R of Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor by one lap.
The Aston-Martin Vantage V8 of Kristian Poulsen, David Heinemeier Hansson, and Nicki Thiim took the class win and 17th overall for Aston-Martin Racing, 45 laps behind the overall winners.
The Nissan ZEOD RC retired after five laps with gearbox issues, not usually a simple fix with hybrids, after setting the all-electric lap record. Next year the company will be back with an LMP-1 car to race against Audi, Porsche and Toyota. Le Mans 2015 promises to be even more competitive.
Here are the complete official race results (PDF format).