Tom Kristensen, sometimes called “Mr. Le Mans,” added yet another to his record-setting total of wins at Circuit de la Sarthe. On Sunday, June 23, at 9 a.m. EDT, the 45-year-old Danishi driver earned his ninth Le Mans victory. Next on the list is Jacky Ickx with six.
One of Kristensen’s co-drivers, Allan McNish, 43, is also a Le Mans veteran; this was his third win. For Loïc Duval the 31-year-old replacement the retired Dindo Capello, it was his first try and his first win at the most prestigious endurance race in the world.
For Audi this was the twelfth win in fourteen attempts; Audi has completely dominated this race in the 21st century.
The #2 car took the lead on lap 101 and held it for 247 laps, through rapidly changing weather, a record eleven safety cars, spins, collisions, and mechanical failures.
The win was not entirely a happy event for Kristensen. His fellow Dane and former protégé, Allan Simonsen, was killed in an accident in the second lap of the race. Kristensen was a friend of Simonsen and had helped him start out in racing; Simonsen’s loss hurt every racing fan, but it hurt Kristensen more.
The rest of the three-car Audi squad had decent days. The #3 Audi, driven by Oliver Jarvis, Marc Gené, and Lucas Di Grassi, finished third, a lap-and-a-half down. The third Audi, the #1 of 2011- and 2012 winners André Lotterer, Benoît Tréluyer, and Marcel Fässler, finished fifth, seven laps down, after a malfunctioning alternator cost the team ten laps earlier in the race.
Toyota didn’t win, but it certainly didn’t lose. After failing to finish with either car in 2012, the Japanese manufacturer brought both cars home in 2013, and while the Toyota TS 030-Hybrid lacked a little speed, it had all the necessary reliability. But for a late-race accident by Nicolas Lapierre, Toyota would have finished second and third. Lapierre hit a wet spot with an hour to go, sending his #7 Toyota into the tires near Turn One while he was lying third.
Sébastien Buemi finished second in the #8 Toyota, one lap behind the winning Audi. Buemi and his co-drivers, Stéphane Sarrazin and Anthony Davidson, made the most of their machinery, but Toyota wasn’t yet ready for the German juggernaut.