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Audi has re-affirmed its dominance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, clinching its 10th overall victory at the race, with all of those titles coming in the past 12 years. Rather than the outright mastery we’ve seen in the past, the odds were against Audi this time around with two-time champ Allan McNish ending his run at the title just an hour into the race with a spectacular crash. (Watch the video here).
During the 8th hour of the race near-tragedy struck again for Audi with the No. 1 car driven by Mike Rockenfeller careening into a guardrail in an impact so violent it split the car in two. In fact, it brought out a two hour caution period as teams worked to reconstruct the track’s safety barriers.
For the next 16 hours the Audi Sport Team Joest No. 2 car driven by Andre Lotterer, Marcel Fassler and Benoit Treluyer held off a trio of diesel-powered Peugeots to take the win, with the nearest Peugeot crossing the finish line 13 seconds behind the lone Audi R18.
In the hotly contested GTEPro class, it was Corvette Racing rising to the challenge. The No. 74 Compuware Corvette C6.R took the lead in the first hour of the race and held onto it until a crash in with under six hours to go. The crash placed AF Corse’s Ferrari F458 Italia in the lead, which was then overtaken by the No. 73 Corvette with three hours to go. Driving duties were shared by Antonio Garcia, Tommy Milner and Olivier Beretta – with this latest victory at Le Mans being his sixth.
In case you missed it, check out the video of Allan McNish’s crash after the jump:
Audi has its sights set of the Nürburgring 24 Hour race and it intends to not only take home the top spot but perhaps the entire podium as it has announced plans to campaign a fleet of R8 LMS GT3 cars.
Teams ABT Sportsline and Phoenix Racing will bring two cars apiece with factory support from Audi. The 500hp cars are built for racing and Audi has stacked the deck with a long list of some of the greatest drivers in motorsports.
The No. 100 ABT Sportsline car will be piloted by reigning DTM Champion Timo Scheider, along with his DTM teammate Mattias Ekström and three-time Le Mans winner Marco Werner. The second ABT Sportsline car, No. 97, will be driven by Christian Abt, Jean-François Hemroulle, Pierre Kaffer and Lucas Luhr.
As for the two Phoenix Racing cars, the No. 98 R8 will be driven by Frank Stippler, Mike Rockenfeller and Marc Basseng, a man who has help the Nürburgring fastest lap record several times.
The No. 99 Phoenix Racing R8 will be piloted by Frank Biela, Marcel Fässler, Emanuele Pirro (an Audi Sport R8 and R10 TDI driver) and none other than Hans-Joachim Stuck, a man who has won the Nürburgring 24 Hour race three times.
“The 24 Hours is not only one of the biggest motorsport events in Germany,” says Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. “The Nürburgring-Nordschleife is considered one of the world’s toughest and most demanding race tracks. Similar to Sebring for the sports prototypes, it is superbly suited for revealing the final improvement potential of any new race car. This is exactly what we’re planning to do at the 24-hour race before delivering the R8 LMS to customers, starting this fall.”
The 37th running of the Nürburgring 24 Hour race will begin May 23rd and conclude May 24th.
Normally the Nürburgring 24 Hour race is a Porsche dominated affair, but we have a feeling this year might be a little different.
Official release after the jump: