Photos & Words: Mike Juergens
The #2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro of Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish, and Loïc Duval crossed the line first ahead of the #8 Toyota and the #3 Audi R18 of Oliver Jarvis, Marc Gene and Lucas Di Grassi. This was Audi’s forth consecutive victory, and their 12th in the last 15 years and the debut of the R8R.
It was a very emotion end to the 81st 24 Hours of Le Mans the victory ceremony started with a dedication of the race to Allan Simonsen. It was a sharp reminder that motorsports will always be dangerous no matter how far we all think safety has progressed.
For Tom Kristensen increased his victory tally at La Sarthe to nine, though the race was especially emotional as Tom recently lost his father in March and fellow racer/countryman Allan Simonsen who lost his life yesterday during the start of the race. Tom emotionally dedicated the race to Allen as he said that his Father can wait until next year to have the victory dedicated to him.
Tom Kristensen: “For me, Le Mans was filled with very personal emotions this time. I’m proud to drive for the worlds best team. This applies to all team-mates, all employees in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm and for Audi Sport Team Joest. They make it possible for us to realize a dream. Now this dream has come true again winning the fastest and toughest race under the direction of Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. Unfortunately, we lost someone yesterday (with Allan Simonsen) who had the same dream. He was a very modest and nice person. Thats why Im experiencing highs and lows this time. With respect to my ninth victory: Im driving with determination and the ambition my father inspired in me. He died in March. Before his death, he told me that I’d win Le Mans this year with my team-mates. Im hoping that one day Ill be able to celebrate another victory with Loïc and Allan that I can dedicate to my father. Because this Le Mans success I’m dedicating to Allan Simonsen.”
This was my 3rd Le Mans since 2011 and this year lacked any celebration. There was no Audi flags waving at the end of pits by the Audi team members, there was no champaign spraying or confetti filling the air. There was a definite and there was a cloud of sorrow over the subdued ceremony on the teams part.
It was a hard fought victory for every 348 laps everybody with a record 11 safety cars and a number of heavy downpours disrupted the flow of the 81st running of the world famous French annual endurance classic. The #2 Audi and the #8 Toyota were trading punches right up until the very last lap.