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.