June 18, 2012
The Checkered Flag
June 17 – Le Mans, France – Le Mans 24 Hours concluded Sunday, with the world’s oldest endurance race seeing a few historical firsts including a hybrid champion, as well as many technological advances.
The event, begun in 1923, hosted the Nissan DeltaWing under its “Garage 56″ designation, while seeing two different teams’ hybrid vehicles battle for the checkered flag on the13.6 km Circuit de la Sarthe.
In the end, Audi captured all three places on the podium, with the R18 driven by Frenchman Benoit Treluyer, Switzerland’s Marcel Fassler and Germany’s Andre Lotterer the top spot.
The DeltaWing quickly achieved more than novelty status and appeared capable of continuing to Sunday when it was involved in a collision with another car and its Le Mans ended prematurely.
A Toyota gas-hybrid earlier had swapped the lead with reigning champion Audi’s diesel-hybrid, another clear indication of how motorsports is looking to new possibilities.
Toyota was back at Le Mans for the first time in 13 years, while Audi won its 11th crown at Le Mans, and seventh in the last eight years.