While Audi claimed yet another victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the team were not without their moments. A late race crash from Allan McNish cost the #2 car the lead while the sister car, the #1 car of Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler, too the win. Audi now claims the title of first hybrid to win at the prestigious race. For the rest of the field? there are some interesting stories but perhaps more relevant to Formula One fans is the terrific performance of Nick Heidfeld and Giancarlo Fisichella.
Rebellion Racing beat the petrol-powered Audi Ultra #3 car to fourth after Marc Gene put it in the wall. Together with Nicolas Prost and Neel Jani, former F1 driver Nick Heidfeld had a terrific outing and told AUTOSPORT:
“It’s great, the best ever result for the team, my first 24-hour race finish,” he said. “It feels like a win, even though it is not quite like that. It’s definitely the maximum we could have achieved, we had one Audi behind and we could never have expected that. It is great for the team, they’ve put so much effort in.”
“Here at Le Mans you cannot take too many big risks,” said Heidfeld. “In the beginning you have to push and then you have to see how the race unfolds. The first three cars here all finished a lap apart – you have to remember you’re running a 24-hour race but not everybody remembers this all the time.
“We had some problems with our clutch, but that was only an issue at the pitstops, and a little thing with the throttle but nothing major. The car was strong all the way.”
As for Nick’s peer in Formula 1, Fisichella won the GTE Pro class in his #51 AF Corse Ferrari. He told AUTOSPORT that this was better than his three races in F1:
“I won a few races in Formula 1, but winning [Le Mans] was my dream and it feels great,” Fisichella said. “The dream came true. I have to say thank you to my team-mates Gianmaria [Bruni] and Toni [Vilander] – they did a fantastic job and together we made a great race.”
It was a good day for Rebellion Racing, AF Corse and Audi but one wonders if Allan McNish will mull this incident over for years to come and what Audi gained, they truly know they left a lot on the table as well. While that may be the case, no one can doubt the amount of work put in to this program by Team Joest Audi and they deserve a terrific victory. So too does Rebellion working from a much smaller budget.