A Le Mans race to remember
This year saw perhaps the most dramatic Le Mans race ever to unfold; from disappointing performances to shocking final lap developments, it seems that this year’s race held enough twists and turns to keep even the most neutral racing fan watching with captivation.
With 2016 marking the tenth year of Audi’s ground-breaking TDI race car competing, everything was set for another impressive victory. Today’s Audi LMP1 race car uses an incredible 46.4% less fuel than it did ten years ago, while managing to achieve lap times 10-15 seconds better than its predecessor. It would surely be an easy ride for the Audi team.
Sadly, after an hour of fierce competition, the No 7 Audi driven by Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler was wheeled back into the pits after suffering a turbocharger failure, which cost five laps that further issues made it impossible to recover.
Audi’s performance was eclipsed however, by the events of the final laps that will surely go down in history. Toyota seemed the clear victors as the race wore on, maintaining a steady lead on Porsche’s No 2, driven by Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb, but catastrophe struck in the final three minutes. Halfway through what should have been Kazuki Nakajima’s wind-down lap, the Toyota began to slow, coming to a stop just short of the finish line, reporting a total loss of power.
Although managing to get round the final lap, Nakajima’s Toyota was eliminated from the boards after it was ruled to have got round too slowly. This meant a hollow victory for No 8 Audi, taking the 3rd placed on the podium and continuing Audi’s history of placing in every Le Mans race since 1999.
Overall, it seems to have been a troubled race all round for lead manufacturers; Audi made numerous pit stops the whole way, along with problems with the No 1 Porsche and obvious problems with Toyota’s cars. Clearly, that the 2016 Le Mans race proved that things really can change in a second when it comes to this most famous of endurance races.
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