amount for maximum deployment every
time. Even so, it made the car very potent.
At Le Mans, despite Toyota flirting with
being in contention for the first quarter of
the race, it became an all-Audi battle at
the front. And the fight was between the
hybrid cars, not the conventional ones. In
the end, after a fascinating battle, it was
the pole-winning No. 1 R18 e-tron quattro
of Andre Lotterer, Marcel Fassler and
Benoit Treluyer that won by a lap from
the sister hybrid of Allan McNish, Tom
Kristensen and Dindo Capello. The
winning car ran quadruple stints on a set
of Michelins, albeit managing only 11 laps
between stops, while the runner-up was
triple stinting with 12-lap runs. Had
McNish not sustained minor damage
after an off in the Porsche Curves while
lapping a GTE Ferrari, it would have been
touch and go as to which was victorious.
Given the fact that hybrid technology
has been the mandated norm in LMP1
racing since then, it’s easy to forget how
big a deal the victory for this kind of car
was – more so given that this year’s
24 Hours grabbed the headlines because
of the unreliability of the breed, allowing
an LMP2 car to come within just over an
hour of winning. But, yes, the R18 e-tron
quattro was a truly epochal car.
There’s a whole lineage of Audi
prototypes that all warrant
consideration, but none had quite the
significance of the 2012 R18 e-tron
quattro. The Peugeot 905 HDi FAP
that raced in various forms at Le Mans
from 2007-’ 11 became one of the rare
cars actually to beat Audi at La Sarthe,
earning a 1-2 in 2009, but overall will
go down in history as an underachiever.
Likewise the Toyota TS040 and
TS050 that both looked set to win
Le Mans before things fell apart.
SPORTS CAR CONTENDERS
Chevrolet’s mighty Corvette C6.R GT1
racer took overall top-five finishes at
Le Mans in 2004 and ’05 (ABOVE).
Greatness credentials of the Delta Wing? How
about changing perceptions of what racecars
should be by daring to think outside the box.
In the GT ranks, the cars that will be
best remembered will be the Pratt &
Miller-built Chevrolet Corvettes. In
particular, the rumbling GT1 class
C6.R that finished fifth and then fourth
overall at Le Mans in 2005 and ’06.
The Delta Wing, which originated as
Ben Bowlby’s IndyCar concept, also
deserves a mention. While it existed
outside of the normal regulations and
rarely finished, it did make a big
impact on the consciousness of the
fans in its five years of competition.
Also in the U.S., the LMP2-spec,
LMP1-baiting Porsche RS Spyder
played a key role in some of the most
dramatic sports car racing ever seen
when the Penske-run cars went head
to head with Audi in the 2006-’08
ALMS. Although its competitiveness
was the result of rules tweaks to spice
up the racing, that’s not to say the
Spyder wasn’t a great car for its class.
(ABOVE) The No. 1
Audi R18 e-tron
quattro took the
honors at the
2012 24 Hours of
Le Mans, heading
home a 1-2 for the
diesel racer, and
a 1- 2-3 for Audi. D a n