24 Hours of Le Mans 2014 review
24 Hours of Le Mans is probably one of the best known race events in the world and greatest venue for every car manufacturer on the planet. In its 82nd year, 24 Hours of Le Mans proved to be interesting as always although the overall winner was the same since 2010. That’s right, the winner of 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans was Audi with its unbeatable Audi R18 e-Tron Quattro.
However, 2014 Le Mans had its share of excitement and fierce on track battles to be memorable year for fans and racing teams. First, for 2014 there was a small change in rules and the cars in premiere class LMP1 must have a roof due to safety concerns, and open-cockpit cars will only be allowed in the slightly slower LMP2 category. Second, LMP1 and LMP2 cars are now, although similar in speed and dynamic, different in technology since all LMP1 cars are hybrid powered.
With that been said, it was interesting to see how Audis would handle newcomer Toyota and famous Porsche which came back in to 24 Hours of Le Mans after long hiatus from prototype racing.
The 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans started on Saturday 14th June at exactly 15:00 hours with 54 cars on the grid divided in four classes (LMP1,LMP2,LMGTE Am, LMGTE Pro). Toyota Racing had a pole position with Porsche Team just behind. Drivers started carefully since there was a terrible crash two days before when Audi’s driver Loic Duval crashed on fastest part of the track during qualifying. Miraculously, he survived and equally miraculously car was rebuild for the race. It took much overnight work in pits and some driver shuffling, but Audi had 3 cars on the grid compering to 2 Porsches and 2 Toyotas.
At the beginning of the race, Toyota took the lead but soon race conditions started to get worse. It rained hard twice in first part of the race, making it hard to drive since a lot of drivers went to pits for tyre change. The chaos on the track caused one Audi, Porsche and Toyota to crashed. For next 11 hours remaining Toyota and Porsche battled for lead stalked by two Audis. In the early morning of the next day, Toyota caught fire on the track and retired while Audis managed to overtake remaining Porsche which was slowed down by mechanical problems. So Audi driven by André Lotterer, Marcel Fässler and Benoît Tréluyer won 24 Hours of Le Mans for impressive 13th time, but still Porsche is overall record holder with 16 wins on famous “Circuit de la Sarthe“.Fans of extraordinary race cars didn’t had the chance to fully to enjoy the Nissan ZEOD RC since that groundbreaking race car retired just 6 laps in to the race, doomed by gearbox problems.
In slower GT classes Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 of AF Corse team and Aston Martin V8 Vantage GTE of Aston Martin Racing were victorious. At the end, from 54 cars that started the race, 38 vehicles finished this race.