The 2014 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans was one of the wildest races motorsports fans will ever witness, and it was the No. 2 Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro driven by Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer that stole the show in France with a monumental victory.
While Team Audi won the LMP1 division, (the No. 1 Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro driven by Lucas di Grassi, Marc Gene and Tom Kristensen also managed to finish second) there were three other divisions that also crowned champions.
For the LMP2 classification, it was the Jota Sport Zytek Z11SN-Nissan driven by Simon Dolan, Harry Tincknell and Oliver Turvey that took the checkered flag.
As for the other two series, the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 driven by Gianmaria Bruni, Toni Vilander and Giancarlo Fisichella won the GTE-Pro classification and the No. 95 Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vantage GTE driven by Kristian Poulsen, David Heinemeier Hansson and Nicki Thiim that won the GTE-Am race.
According to Matthew de Paula of Forbes.com, there were massive crowds watching the exciting event:
With major issues for several marquee teams and other unproven programs stunning the sport and running much better than expected, the 2014 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans will go down as one of the most entertaining in history.
|1||Audi Sport Joest R18 e-tron||Fassler/Lotterer/Treluyer||379|
|2||Audi Sport Joest R18 e-tron||Kristensen/Gene/di Grassi||376|
|3||Toyota TS040 Hybrid||Davidson/Lapierre/Buemi||373|
|4||Rebellion R-ONE Toyota||Prost/Heidfeld/Beche||359|
|5||Porsche 919 Hybrid||Dumas/Jani/Lieb||348|
|1||Jota Zytek Z11SN Nissan||Dolan/Tincknell/Turvey||355|
|2||Thiriet by TDS Ligier JS Nissan||Thiriet/Badey/Gommendy||355|
|3||Signatech Alpine A450b Nissan||Panciatici/Webb/Chatin||355|
|4||Sebastien Loeb Oreca 03 Nissan||Rast/Charouz/Capillaire||354|
|5||OAK Ligier JS Nissan||Brundle/Mardenborough/Shulzhitskiy||354|
|1||AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia||Bruni/Vilander/Fisichella||339|
|2||Corvette Racing Chevrolet C7 R||Magnussen/Garcia/Taylor||338|
|3||Porsche Team Manthay 911||Holzer/Makowiecki/Lietz||337|
|4||Corvette Racing Chevrolet C7 R||Gavin/Milner/Westbrook||333|
|5||Aston Martin Racing Vantage V8||Turner/Mucke/Senna||310|
|1||Aston Martin Racing Vantage V8||Poulsen/Heinemeier/Thiim||334|
|2||Proton Porsche 911 GT3 RSR||Ried/Bachler/Al Qubaisi||332|
|3||AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia||Perez/Cioci/Venturi||331|
|4||8 Star Ferrari F458 Italia||Montecalvo/Roda/Ruberti||330|
|5||Proton Porsche 911 GT3 RSR||Dempsey/Long/Foster||329|
Breaking Down the Race
The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the ultimate endurance race, but don’t tell that to the racers who came out of the starting grid pushing their cars to the limit starting on the very first lap.
Even Formula One driver Romain Grosjean was excited to watch the action on track:
From the very start of the race, it was the Toyota teams and Audi teams that made their dominance at the track clear. The No. 7 Toyota TS040 Hybrid took the pole and set the pace of the race early.
As for the two Porsche teams that many fans felt had a great chance to win, the problems started early. The No. 14 Porsche 919 Hybrid had fuel pressure issues, and the No. 20 car was off the pace of the elite drivers initially.
It was also early in the race that the two Audi R18 e-tron Quattro cars started to show glimpses of the elite speed they possessed, and that was one of the determining factors in the eventual outcome of the race.
After several periods of rain that saw spins and caution flags, it was the No. 20 Porsche team that moved to the front of the pack. Timo Bernhard earned the lead for the No. 20 and handed it off to Brendon Hartley just four hours into the event.
The rain ceased and the racing was clean through hour six. At that time, the No. 7 Toyota was leading the LMP1 division, the No. 34 Race Performance Oreca 03 Judd led the LMP2, Corvette Racing led the GTE-Pro and Aston Martin Racing led the GTE-Am.
At the 12-hour mark, Audi’s No. 1 car was forced to limp back to the pits and was forced to change a fuel injector, according to the team’s official website:
While the No. 1 car eventually returned to the track, it was the No. 7 Toyota TS040 Hybrid that led for much of the day, but a technical failure forced the car from the track for the remainder of the race.
One of the drivers in the No. 7 car, Alex Wurz, shared his disappointment with the outcome:
I am devastated and want to cry! Leading the LeMans 24h race for 14h... pushing every inch along the way... and now technical breakdown :-(— alex wurz (@alex_wurz) June 15, 2014
The No. 20 car took the lead in the early hours of the morning when the No. 1 Audi faced technical issues and was forced to pit. The Porsche team started to find a great rhythm until struggles hit their team as well.
With veteran Formula One driver Mark Webber behind the wheel, the No. 20 faced technical breakdowns and was not able to return to the track. It was a disappointing end to an overall successful run.
The GT Porsche Twitter account shared the disappointment:
Gutted for #20 919, out of the @24hoursoflemans but what a brilliant performance by the team.— GT Porsche (@GTPorsche) June 15, 2014
At 6 a.m. ET, it was the No. 32 Oak Racing Nissan that led the LMP2 division, the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari that led the GTE Pro class and the No. 95 Aston Martin that led the GTE Am.
The final three hours were relatively calm compared to the rest of the race (sans the issues that continued for the No. 20 car), and motorsports fans saw an excellent conclusion to the day-long event.
As the crown jewel of the endurance race circuit, this was a great showing for the Audi teams and the No. 8 Toyota in the LMP1 class, but this was also a great re-introduction into the upper echelon for Porsche as a contributing manufacturer.
The hope is that next year Team Porsche will come back to challenge the Audi and Toyota teams for the entire 24 hours.
*Stats via 24h-LeMans.com.