2011 24 Hours of Le Mans: Hour Twenty Four Update

by James Broomhead

Andre Lotterer has brought the no.2 Audi R18 across the finish line at the end of a remarkable 24 Hours of Le Mans, beating Simon Pagenaud by just 13 seconds in one of the closest finishes in the history of the legendary endurance race.

Audi may have feared they had lost the race at times. Lotterer needed to pit twice in the final 60 minutes to ensure he could make the finish, and while the first stop, with 55 minutes still on the clock went without worry the second stop was more alarming.

Both Lotterer and Pagenaud pitted at the end of the same lap, with just 34 seconds between them, but while Peugeot only fuelled the no.9 Audi elected to give Lotterer one last set of Michelin tyres for the final 26 minutes.

The tyre change cost Audi time, and cut Lotterer's heart-stoppingly slender lead in half, but he remained in the lead and soon begun to put his fresh rubber to good use and pull away from Pagenaud after initially losing more time to the Peugeot man.

The gap was never truly comfortable, and the race was close enough for the ACO to eschew the tradition of the ceremonial last lap in favour of final lap at full racing speed and a full slowing down lap around the entire Circuit de la Sarthe.

As with any 24 Hour race the final hour was full of both joy and heartbreak. Robertson Racing – husband and wife Andrea and David Robertson with David Murry took the final podium place from the GTEAm class, passing the JMB Racing Ferrari early in the final hour of racing.

Shinji Nakano suffered an engine failure on the penultimate lap, the no.49 OAK Racing entry expiring beneath him around the first corner.

Greaves Motorsport won LMP2, the tiny team finishing eighth overall. Signatech Nissan finished second at the end of a difficult 24 hours that included three punctures for the squad of Franck Mailleux, Lucas Ordonez and Soheil Ayari, who took the car across the finish line. Scott Tucker's Level 5 Motorsport squad completed the class podium.

After looking like they had lost the class when their dominant no.74 car crashed on Sunday morning Corvette Racing won GTEPro – arguably a year later than they should have done – ahead of AF Corse and the no.56 BMW M3 third.

Another Corvette won GTEAm, this one from French squad Larbre Competition. The team's second car, a Porsche finished second, surviving a final hour spin at Arnage, with the Robertson Racing Ford GT in third, the American team taking advantage of the rate of attrition in the lowest class.

No.2 – Audi Sport Team Joest – Fassler/Lotterer/Treluyer
No.9 – Sport Total – Bourdais/Lamy/Pagenaud
No.8 – Peugeot Sport Total – Sarrazin/Montagny/Minassian

No.41 – Greaves Motorsport – Ojjeh/Kimber-Smith/Lombard
No.26 – Signatech – Mailleux/Ordonez/Ayari
No.33 – Level 5 Motorsport – Tucker/Bouchut/Barbosa

No.73 – Corvette Racing – Beretta/Milner/Garcia
No.51 – AF Corse SRL – Fisichella/Bruni/Vilander
No.56 – BMW Motorsport – Priaulx/Muller/Hand

No.50 – Larbre Competition – Bornhauser/Canal/Gardel
No 70 – Larbre Competition – Bourret/Gibon/Belloc
No.68 – Robertson Racing – Murry/Robertson/Robertson

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