Historic triumph for AUDI: R18 e-tron quattro achieves first victory of a hybrid vehicle at Le Mans
On the 80th running of the famous Le Mans 24 Hours, a vehicle with hybrid drive â€“ the Audi R18 e-tron quattro â€“ has triumphed for the first time.
Around 240,000 spectators witnessed a fascinating race with the drama and incidents that are typical for Le Mans plus an impressive demonstration of â€œVorsprung durch Technik.â€? The four Audi R18 cars from Audi Sport Team Joest were the quickest and most reliable vehicles and after 24 hours occupied positions one, two, three and five.
â€œBy achieving this further success at the worldâ€™s most important endurance race our engineers demonstrated their high technological expertise in a particularly impressive way,â€? commented Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG, who personally watched the race on location. â€œWith the e-tron quattro in combination with ultra lightweight design, we put a completely new technology on the grid and immediately won with it â€“ this cannot be taken for granted by any means, particularly here at Le Mans. This weekend again showed the type of things that can happen in this race and how important perfect preparation is.â€?
Le Mans rookie Marco Bonanomi (I), Oliver Jarvis (GB) and Mike Rockenfeller (D) in the best conventionally powered Audi R18 ultra completed the fourth one two three victory for Audi at the Le Mans 24 Hours after 2000, 2002 and 2010. Romain Dumas (F), Lo?¯c Duval (F) and Marc Gen?© (E) at the wheel of the second R18 ultra finished in fifth place.
Operating at the rear of all four Audi R18 cars was the latest evolution of the compact V6 TDI engine with VTG mono turbocharger that was used at Le Mans for the first time in 2011. The new ultra-light transmission with a carbon fiber housing â€“ a novelty in a Le Mans sports car â€“ held up to the Le Mans endurance test covering a distance of 5.151 kilometers in all four vehicles without any problems as well. Like quatto all-wheel drive, ultra-lightweight design is a core competency of the company.
The two Audi R18 e-tron quattro cars embody these two technologies in a particularly extreme form â€“ and they were the protagonists at the 80th edition of the endurance classic right from the beginning. They only had to relinquish the leading position to one of the two Toyota hybrid vehicles once for a few laps on Saturday night. After the early retirements of their fiercest rivals the two R18 e-tron quattro cars fought a thrilling duel for victory throughout the night until noon on Sunday during which the lead changed several times and the two diesel hybrid sports cars were often separated by just a few seconds.
An accident by Allan McNish in the fast Porsche corners less than three hours before the finish caused the preliminary decision. Audi Sport Team Joest managed to repair the heavy damage at the front of the R18 e-tron quattro in record time and to thus save second place. In the early phase, car number â€œ2â€? had lost nearly a lap after a massive piece of rubber pick-up had gotten stuck in the area of the rear suspension.
The winning car with chassis number R18-208H nicknamed â€œElectraâ€? was not spared from incidents either. Marcel F?¤ssler touched the track barrier twice on Saturday morning: the first time after spinning at high speed and the second time when he had to evade a GT vehicle that was standing sideways in the Mulsanne corner. Beno?®t Tr?©luyer, who was suffering from a severe cold which he had caught on Friday while participating in the driversâ€™ parade in the rain in the center of Le Mans, spun once at the entrance to the pit lane.
The third-placed Audi R18 ultra â€“ car number â€œ4â€? â€“ lost a lap right at the beginning of the race due to a check of the rear suspension. On late Sunday morning a gear got stuck twice which the driver was able to correct each time by switching the ignition on and off. Afterward the R18 was running perfectly again and allowed Marco Bonanomi and Oliver Jarvis to clinch the first podium place at Le Mans together with Mike Rockenfeller, who returned to the podium a year after his serious accident.
Two nearly identical slips caused the Audi R18 ultra #3 in which Lo?¯c Duval set the fastest lap of the race to lose its chance for victory. On Saturday night, Romain Dumas in the first chicane while lapping a GT vehicle hit the dirty part of the track and slid against the track barrier. The same mishap occurred to Marc Gen?© on Sunday noon. In both cases, Audi Sport Team Joest managed to repair the R18 in an extremely short period of time. In total, though, twelve laps were lost.
â€œThis was a race of the kind you can arguably experience only at Le Mans,â€? said Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich after his four Audi R18 cars had crossed the finish line. â€œYou should never rejoice too early at Le Mans, which was obvious again especially on Sunday noon. The whole world was already talking about a one-two-three- four victory and all of a sudden two of our cars had accidents almost simultaneously. That the squad repeatedly managed to repair the cars so quickly after the slips clearly speaks for Audi Sport Team Joest that can simply be banked on at Le Mans. On the whole, I can only take my hat off to the entire squad of Audi Sport that worked extremely hard for a year to make this triumph possible. It was a very big challenge to develop a hybrid car in such a short time that is quick and able to hold up for 24 hours. The fact that, as in 2001 with the TFSI engine and in 2006 with the TDI, we managed to be successful right on the first run simply proves the level of technological expertise that is available at Audi. This is a great day for Audi Sport, for Audi and for the e-tron quattro.â€?
With its eleventh victory at Le Mans, Audi has extended its lead in the World Endurance Championship. Dindo Capello, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish as the runners-up recaptured the lead in the driversâ€™ world championship.
Quotes after the Audi triumph at Le Mans:
Marcel F?¤ssler (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): â€œThis was an incredible race. There were so many highs and low â€“ especially for me. I had a great team. The mechanics gave everything after the accident to repair the car as quickly as possible. As always, my driver colleagues did a fantastic job too. For Audi, this is a great day. Clinching not just victory but a one-two result with the new technology of the e-tron quattro is a brilliant feat.â€?
Andr?© Lotterer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): â€œThe new Audi R18 e-tron quattro is very strong and gave us a lot of confidence. Itâ€™s brilliant to have won yet again!
Thatâ€™s an incredibly nice feeling. It was a really strenuous race. A year ago, we were battling against Peugeot and this year against Toyota at the beginning of the race. Unfortunately, our rival retired. But we contested a very fierce race against car number â€?2â€™ in our team as well. Audi Sport allowed all of us to give everything. It was real racing, and in your own team thatâ€™s particularly interesting. Last year, we were running against Peugeot by ourselves after two major accidents. This year, the trust among the entire squad has grown even further. Competing with Audi continues to be very special.â€?
Beno?®t Tr?©luyer (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #1): â€œIt was a very tough race because traffic on track was particularly heavy this year. You had to be extremely careful not to leave the racing line while lapping as the track was extremely slippery there. There were a number of critical maneuvers. In the morning hours, we had a thrilling and fair duel with our â€?sister car.â€™ The duel between the two Audi R18 e-tron quattro impressively proved the potential of the hybrid car. Iâ€™m happy to be on the top spot of the podium again.â€?
Dindo Capello (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2): â€œUp until the accident it was a great race. When it happened we were in contention for victory. As we could see last year, youâ€™ve got to take risks if you want to win. Without those risks, Audi wouldnâ€™t have won at that time. Thatâ€™s why we took risks this year too. The result is a bit disappointing for the whole team and especially for Allan (McNish). As a racer, I know how heâ€™s feeling at the moment. Tom (Kristensen) and I know that something like that can happen to any driver anytime, especially when youâ€™re battling for victory. Here at Le Mans, you canâ€™t afford to give away even a tenth of a second anymore. Sometimes it works out and at others it doesnâ€™t. For us, it didnâ€™t work out this time. But next time weâ€™ll have better luck again.â€?
Tom Kristensen (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2): â€œThe race gave me a lot of pleasure because it offered everything. I particularly enjoyed the three stints at night. I was supposed to drive as fast as possible and complete twelve laps with each fuel tank filling. I managed this every time. Especially in the morning when weâ€™d made up a lot of time and even taken the lead we were very confident. Iâ€™m sad that I wasnâ€™t able to battle with Andr?© (Lotterer) for victory anymore on the final laps. But Iâ€™m even sadder about the fact that Dindo (Capello) didnâ€™t win on his last run at Le Mans. He would have deserved it. We gave everything for that. â€?Well doneâ€™ to car number â€?1.â€™ They did a great job and deserve this success as well. Audiâ€™s performance and reliability are impressive when you look at the challenges to be mastered in the race. At Le Mans, youâ€™ve got to expect anything at any time.â€?
Allan McNish (Audi R18 e-tron quattro #2): â€œIâ€™m devastated. Iâ€™m sorry for our team: Dindo, Tom, the engineers and the mechanics. They did a perfect job throughout the race. Despite a few problems we were in contention for victory up to my accident. I caught a slower GT vehicle in the Porsche corners and expected the driver to stay on the right-hand side. But he didnâ€™t. I havenâ€™t got a clue why. I spun and crashed into the guard rail with the right front. That damaged the front bodywork and the suspension â€“ the necessary repair cost us two laps. That was a very, very big disappointment.â€?
Marco Bonanomi (Audi R18 ultra #4): â€œItâ€™s simply great to have finished on the podium right on my first Le Mans run. The race wasnâ€™t easy for us because we had a puncture early on and transmission problems later. But we were very quick and made no mistakes. Iâ€™m very happy for Audi, my team colleagues and myself. A perfect result.â€?
Oliver Jarvis (Audi R18 ultra #4): â€œIncredible. A race with a lot of ups downs. There were phases when Iâ€™d have never believed that weâ€™d be able to make it on podium. We were running very fast for a few hours and then our car suddenly stopped on track. Thatâ€™s when I thought â€?itâ€™s all over now.â€™ But the team not only worked hard in that case and we were able to continue. I want to thank the guys; they did an outstanding job. We owe the podium to them. This has made a dream come true for me.â€?
Mike Rockenfeller (Audi R18 ultra #4): â€œTo be honest, Iâ€™m pretty happy that we made it onto the podium at Le Mans. That was our minimum goal. We werenâ€™t quick enough during major parts of the race to be in contention for the very top spots.
Still, I want to thank the team and my two fellow contenders. We made the best of the situation and made no mistakes â€?Well doneâ€™ to the other three Audi teams who had an incredible speed. I think weâ€™ve experienced a great day for Audi that we can celebrate today.â€?
Romain Dumas (Audi R18 ultra #3): â€œActually, we had a good race in our Audi R18 ultra. Unfortunately, we were slowed by two accidents one of which I admit I was at fault in. This incident alone cost us so many laps that the leap onto the podium was no longer possible. Still, nobody in the team needs to feel bad about that. On the whole, all of us did a good job. That particularly goes for our mechanics, who had to repair the car twice.â€?
Lo?¯c Duval (Audi R18 ultra #3): â€œFor us, it was a somewhat frustrating, tough race. We had two accidents and related repair breaks. But like they had throughout the week, our mechanics did a fantastic job. Aside from the incidents our car was running superbly but the situation at the front was very tight, so we werenâ€™t able to close up to the three front runners. But Iâ€™m already looking forward to next year and hope to achieve a better finish then.â€?
Marc Gen?© (Audi R18 ultra #3): â€œIt was a very difficult race for us. We lost ground due to a puncture early on. We kept on battling afterwards but Romain (Dumas) and I both had an accident which cost us time again. But the mechanics did a great job of performing the necessary repairs. The most important thing, though, is that Audi managed a one-two-three win. Iâ€™m happy that I drove a large number of laps and learned a lot that Iâ€™ll be able to benefit from next year.â€?
The Audi Group delivered around 1,302,659 cars of the Audi brand to customers in 2011. In 2011 the Company posted revenue of â‚¬44.1 billion and an operating profit of â‚¬5.3 billion. Audi produces vehicles in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm (Germany), Gy?‘r (Hungary), Changchun (China) and Brussels (Belgium).
The Audi Q7 is built in Bratislava (Slovakia). In July 2010, CKD production of the Audi Q5 was added to the existing Audi A4 and A6 manufacturing operations in Aurangabad (India). At the Brussels plant, production of the Audi A1 has been running since May 2010, while production of the new A1 Sportback began in 2012. The Audi Q3 has been built in Martorell (Spain) since June 2011. The Company is active in more than 100 markets worldwide.
AUDI AGâ€™s wholly owned subsidiaries include AUDI HUNGARIA MOTOR Kft., Automobili Lamborghini Holding S.p.A. in Santâ€™Agata Bolognese (Italy), AUDI BRUSSELS S.A./N.V. in Brussels (Belgium) and quattro GmbH in Neckarsulm.
Subject to a positive decision by the responsible competition authorities, the Italian sports motorcycle manufacturer Ducati Motor Holding S.p.A. will also belong to the Audi Group. Audi currently employs around 64,000 people worldwide, including around 48,000 in Germany.
Between 2012 and 2016 the brand with the four rings is planning to invest more than â‚¬13 billion â€“ mainly in new products, human resources and the extension of production capacities â€“ in order to sustain the Companyâ€™s technological lead embodied in its â€œVorsprung durch Technikâ€? slogan. Audi is currently expanding its site in Gy?‘r (Hungary) and will start production in Foshan (China) in late 2013 and in Mexico from 2016.
Audi has long been fulfilling its social responsibility on many levels â€“ with the aim of making the future worth living for generations to come. The basis for Audiâ€™s lasting success is therefore formed by environmental protection, the conservation of resources, international competitiveness and a forward-looking human resources policy. One example of AUDI AGâ€™s commitment to environmental issues is the newly established Audi Environmental Foundation. Under the heading of â€œAudi balanced mobility,â€? the Company is directing its activities toward a major goal â€“ comprehensive CO2-neutral mobility.
AUDI AGâ€™s commitment to the Middle East region was confirmed through the foundation of its fully owned subsidiary in 2005. The current Middle East model range comprises the Audi A1, A3 Sportback and A4, the A5 Coupe, Sportback and Cabriolet as well as the RS 5, the A6, A7 and A8 L, the Q5 and Q7, the TT Coupe/Roadster and TT RS Coupe, the R8, R8 V10, R8 Spyder V10 as well as R8 GT and R8 GT Spyder.
Ingolstadt / Le Mans / Dubai
Want to sell your used car or buy one? Then check out our new used car market section here!
Looking for a good service center or aftersales customer service? Did you have any bad experience with your car dealer or service center? Then check our 'automotive evaluation charts' here!
Is Egyptian car market corrupt or collapsing?
Is the Egyptian car market collapsing or is it just a corrupt and unprofessional car market? This is surely one of the most asked questions these days. Everybody is asking ...
Formula 1 2013
Middle East Motor Awards 2012
Crash Test Results
End human trafficking now!
The End Human Trafficking Now! campaign focuses on the business community's critical role in helping eliminate human trafficking.
For more information