24 Hours of Le Mans audi-r18-e-tron-quattro-24-hours-of-le-mans

Published on June 17th, 2012 | by Christopher DeMorro

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Audi R18 E-Tron Wins 24 Hours of Le Mans

It was already readily apparent that the story at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans would about the battle of the hybrids, with Toyota and Audi squaring off with brand new flywheel hybrid race cars. And after 24 hours of big crashes and some brutal racing, the winner was indeed an Audi hybrid, with the car piloted by the team of  Andre Lotterer, Marcel Fassler, and Treluyer Benoit taking the checkered flag. Indeed, the German brand swept the podium, with the second R18 e-tron hybrid taking second place and an Audi R18 Ultra coming in third. But what of the other hybrid/experimental racers?

Unfortunately, the two Toyota hybrids had to retire early, both due to accidents including a very serious high-speed collision that saw the Toyota TS030 driven by Anthony Davidson flip mid-air. Davidson fractured two vertebrae, though prior to the accident both Toyotas had been driving neck-and-neck with the Audi e-trons, at one point even taking the lead.

But then the Toyota driven by Kazuki Nakajima crashed into the experimental Nissan DeltaWing, forcing both cars to retire to the pits, the DeltaWing permanently. The remaining Toyota got back out on the track, but the engine blew before the halfway point, leaving the two remaining Audi hybrids to duke it out for first.

It certainly proved to be a wild battle, though the Toyota teams’ major accidents meant the retirements of the Audi’s two  main competitors, which sort of dampened things in my opinion. But the big news is that despite restricting when and where the hybrid race cars could use their extra power boost, the hybrids consistently proved to be the fastest cars on the track. Don’t be surprised if there are even more hybrid race cars at Le Mans. Hopefully, the DeltaWing will be back too.


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About the Author

Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs. When he isn't wrenching or writing, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.



  • DaveD

    It was shaping up to be a GREAT race. The Toyota hybrids started slow and cautious as they felt out how things were going and what their fuel consumption was going to be. But they clearly started pushing and were even taking the overall lead when all the bad luck started.
    First that Ferrari driver just completely wrecked out the #8 Toyota hybrid in that horrendous accident.
    And then that absolute moron, Nakajima, drove like an 8 year old in his first go-cart race and took out both himself and the DeltaWing to screw over the #7 Toyota Hybrid. There is a reason he was bounced out of F1 and as the DeltaWing driver said:
    DeltaWing driver Marino Franchitti, who didn’t get a chance to race the car, was less than complementary about Nakajima’s driving standards after the crash.

    “Nakajima’s spatial awareness looks to still be as questionable as it was in Formula One,” he continued. “It’s just unfortunate. The same error we saw from the Ferrari driver (that caused Anthony Davidson’s crash) earlier, that’s exactly what Nakajima’s just done to us, unfortunately.”

  • DaveD

    On a positive note: You’re right Chris….the Hybrids showed they are the future of racing. Even with the artificial restrictions on where and how they could use their KERS…they still dominated the race!

    If the Toyota’s hadn’t been wrecked out, they would have swept postions 1-4.

  • Jon_K

    It was fun to watch through the window of the #73 Corvette. It became less fun when all the cars I was interested in, the Delta Wing, the Toyota Hybrids even the Corvettes went out of the race for one reason or other. The #74 Corvette went out when the pit crew didn’t tighten the wheel nut so the wheel fell off. But does racing have any relevance for the cars we drive every day? My Volt shares about zero technology with those Corvettes.

  • Richard

    Sure would like to know more about those “Super Secret” Toyotas.
    It was a great race as always and coverage was excellent.
    Thanks SPEED

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