Audi #3 passes Toyota #7 in the battle for 3rd place. That battle could very easily be determined by the pit stop timing.
Toyota #7 goes off the track, smashing into the tire wall. The driver is OK, jumping out of the car himself, but the car is done. There’s quite a lot f rain on much of the track and several cars are struggling for grip, some spinning.
Audi #2 has just pitted for new slicks (possibly a slight puncture) but now has to pit again for rain tyres. There’s still a Toyota 2 laps behind, also pitting for rain tyres.
GTE Pro in particular is a furious battle for 1st position between #92 Porsche and #97 Aston Martin, they’re virtually neck and neck.
#35 Oak Racing spins in the rain. It’s able to continue but may lose its lead in the LMP2 class to the sister car #24 Oak Racing.
Meanwhile, #7 Toyota has been dug out of the tire wall and returned to the track, but badly damaged, the entire front missing.
GTE Am is also far from settled yet, at least for positions 2 and 3.
Amidst the rain-soaked pandemonium, the safety cars enter the track once more.
One hour to go.
#2 Audi is in the lead by a lap, #8 Toyota is in second, about 4 minutes ahead of Audi #3.
LMP2 has seen #24 Oak Racing retake the lead after the sister car #35 Oak Racing spun in the rain, relegating it to second place.
GTE Pro is still a furious battle between the factory #92 Porsche and the #97 Aston Martin. So far the Porsche has the lead but the gap is very small indeed.
GTE Am still has the #76 Porsche ahead of two Ferraris.
Typical of this Le Mans, there’s intermittent rain and the safety car is out as the track is cleared of debris from the rain-induced spins and crashes.
With the safety car out, the track is drying pretty quickly, but more rain is expected in about 10 minutes (and it’s still drizzling on some parts of the track). The big wet/dry tire gamble begin in earnest: Wet tires wear out quickly on a dry track but slicks have absolutely zero grip on a wet surface. 45 minutes to go.
#7 Toyota is back on the track, but well behind after the frantic repair work in the pit.
With a good half an hour left, the safety car pulls in and the race is back on. No changes in the standings, except #35 Oak Racing has retaken the lead from #24 Oak Racing. With such small gaps between the lead cars, the final pit stop can be decisive.
#2 Audi team radio says it’ll stay out for the reset of the race. The #8 Toyota in second is right behind it, but a lap down.
15 minutes to go. Everyone’s waiting to see if the next shower arrives before the race ends. The #53 Viper pits and switches to slicks. A risky move considering the very dark clouds hanging over the track, with rain pouring down on the straight.
With less than five minutes to go #2 Audi eases off the pace to avoid doing an extra lap: The race ends when the leading car pass the finish after the clock has passed 15.00. #8 Toyota in second also slows down, accepting that they can’t reach the Audi. Cars are beginning to prepare for the finish, slipping in behind the leader so they won’t have to do an extra lap either. Cars that have been parked in the pit for quite a long time will also return to the track to be registered as having completed the race.
Audi #2 (Kristensen, McNish, Duval) pass the checkered flag as the winner of LMP1 and the race overall. This is the 9th winner for Kristensen, already the most winning Le Mans driver in history.
#35 Oak Racing (Baguette, Gonzalez, Plowman) wins LMP2 ahead of its sister car, despite a small spin in the rain.
#92 Porsche wins GTE Pro. In 2014 Porsche plan to compete in the LMP1 class with a brand new car.
#76 Porsche wins GTE Am. In both GT classes Porsche prevailed against the favourite Aston Martins.
The trophy award is preceded short ceremony, hosted by Le Mans legend Jacky Ickx, in memory of driver Allan Simonsen who was killed in a crash in the first hour of the race. Before stepping onto the podium, Tom Kristensen, obviously affected by the death of his fellow countryman and driver colleague, hugs Ickx. The two most successful Le Mans drivers have tremendous respect for each other.
Thanks, Krise, for the entertaining play-by-play!
Played boardgames for 10 hours yesterday, so I can’t read the thread until I have gone through the DVR (carefully scrolling this so nothing appears in the window) - it might be a day or two before I finish. Sigh.
Cheated and skipped forward to the last three hours of the race, because I want to be able to watch TV, go on ESPN, and the like. Not much changed in the nine hours I skipped to be honest. Audi was going to win it unless they had problems, but Toyota kept it to a close second. Looking forward to Porsche joining LMP1 next year and maybe Nissan the year after. Porsche collecting class win 99 and 100 was nice to see, but I was rooting for the Aston-Martins, which sadly had about the worst day possible on top of the terrible tragedy at the start of the race.
Really happy to see McNish get a third win, as well.
Toyota’s getting awful close to Audi aren’t they? They’ve beaten the Audi’s in other endurance races, but Le Mans is something very special and Audi has an obscene amount of experience there, as well as the huge budget. 2014 regulations for LMP1 cars will see the current engine restrictions (volume, air intake size) removed: Teams can use any engine they want. Instead, fuel flow will be restricted, capping the amount of fuel consumed per lap.
Wow. Great article.
I’ve been waiting for more information on what actually caused Simonsen’s death. The Aston Martin is a substantial car and looking at the damage to it, I couldn’t quite figure out what actually caused his death. Internal safety failure (harness, Hans device) is all I could think of at the time. Clearly it wasn’t penetrating trauma because that would have been obvious and probably reported very quickly. Even blunt force trauma would probably be obvious and might get at least an initial cause of death. Since they aren’t saying means it is probably internal and has to wait for an autopsy, but I think this article gets at least close to the mark.
Good article. Makes me appreciate the work done for safety.