The 82nd 24 Hours of Le Mans kept fans on the edge of their seats from the moment that Fernando Alonso waved the French Tricoleur to the chequered flag at the finish, with elation and despair being experienced in equal measure.
Deserving and joyful winners of the world’s most famous – and challenging – endurance race were André Lotterer, Benoît Tréluyer and Marcel Fässler in the No.2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro. Making it an Audi 1-2 was the Tom Kristensen, Lucas di Grassi and Marc Gené crew of the No.1 Audi but it was a bitter-sweet podium place as that car had been in a strong position for victory until a turbo problem delayed it in the pits. Recovering from accident damage in the first of two heavy rain showers in the first quarter of the race, and finishing in the final overall podium place was the No.8 Toyota TS040 Hybrid of Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi and Nicolas Lapierre, the result allowing them to keep their lead in the World Endurance Drivers Championship.
The Rebellion Racing R-One achieved its goal of finishing the 24 Hours of Le Mans at its first attempt, and the No.12 LMP1-L of Nicolas Prost, Nick Heidfeld and Mathias Beche crossed the line 4th overall. Its sister car retired after 8 hours of racing with an engine problem.
The two Porsche 919s were competitive from the start of the race and the no20 car of Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard leading for several hours before a problem with the engine put the car into retirement after 346 laps. The no14 919 of Neel Jani, Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas also had technical issues, this time with the gearbox, that forced the car into the garage for repairs. Lieb emerged on the last lap to take the chequered flag.
LMP2 was a triumph for ELMS entrants and a disappointment for its FIA WEC runners, and the result was too close to call until the very end. The Ligier JS P2 entries performed beyond expectations for a new car, but it was the No.38 JOTA Sport Zytek Z11SN of Simon Dolan, Harry Tincknell and late replacement Oliver Turvey who lifted the winner’s trophy. They finished ahead of the No.46 Thiriet by TDS Racing Ligier and the No.36 Signatech Alpine A450b Nissan. The action was closely fought, exciting to watch and perfectly demonstrated the high level of competition within the European Le Mans Series.
The only LMP2 car from the WEC to take the chequered was the no27 SMP Racing Oreca Nissan of Mika Salo, Sergey Zlobin and Anton Ladygin, which finished in 35th overall and 11th in LMP2. But because the other 10 cars ahead of the SMP Racing Oreca were not eligible for world championship points the team and drivers scored the 50 points on offer.
The nr37 SMP Racing Oreca Nissan of Nicolas Minassian retired on lap 9 of the race and the other two WEC LMP2 cars – the no47 KCMG Oreca-Nissan and the no26 G-Drive Morgan-Nissan – both retired following separate accidents on lap 87 and Lap 120 respectively.
The next round of the FIA World Endurance Championship will be held at the Circuit of the Americas in Texas on the 18-20 September, the first race of the 2014 season outside of Europe.