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Victory at Le Mans 2014

In bygone years, Bentley won the Le Mans 24 hour race six times, Jaguar won it seven times, although in one of those victories Mercedes pulled out early because of their terrible accident in 1955. Ferrari won nine times, and Porsche, 16 times, indeed, it took them twenty eight years to do so.

So, no manufacturer could achieve what Audi did, 13 total victories in only 14 years. Porsche wanted to raise their contingent this year and were in a promising position with the two 919 hybrids, unfortunately they had to withdraw because of engine- or gearbox failures. Whereby, the new hybrids proved to have something in their favour, even in the event of serious damage, they could comply with the regulations and return to the pits.

The race is now run from 3 pm on Saturday till 3 pm on Sunday, it used to start and finish one hour later. In 2014, the winning car clocked-up altogether 5125 km, in spite of having 29 pit-stops, all adding up to a good hour and even longer safety-car-phases where only 60 km/h was possible.

The Audi R 18 e-tron Quattro, was, as a Diesel powered car, limited to a consumption of 29 litres/100km. It had a 4 litres V6-engine, where the injection pressure had been increased by 200 up to 3.000 bar and which was operated with up to 4 bar of charging pressure. Due to it being narrower, it's narrower tyres and it's altered bodywork, the car was more aerodynamic than last year's car. All this, despite the car having become higher, because of the upright sitting position and, by the way, it was also 45 kg lighter.

Night-laps using the new laser-light

One can easily imagine, that the car is capable of 340 km/h, however, the track at Le Mans has been made slower and slower by putting in chicanes, because the lap-times were getting too fast. The fastest lap now done by the winning car, was over 240 km/h, the average speed over 24 hours, was 215 km/h.

The petrol-hybrids from Toyota and Porsche are allowed to use four litres of fuel per 100 km more, this corresponds to the 13 percent higher energy content that Diesel fuel has over petrol. Indeed, with the large number of pit-stops that they have, stopping for refueling has lost much of its importance. In this respect, the victorious Audi with 11, has the fewest number of tyre-changes.

Despite them having problems with the Variable-Geometry-Turbocharger, Audi still won, probably due to the greater reliability, since both of the others, particularly Toyota, who could mobilize 1000 hp for a short time, were distinctly faster. The age-old rule has always been the same: Having a powerful engine, is not necessarily a guarantee that you're going to win races.

Ever since the introduction of the Diesel powered engine in racing, it's astonishing that Audi, after a race victory, advertises a 38 percent reduction in fuel consumption. They manage with a seven-speed, twin-clutch gearbox, but don't yet have the Energy Recovery System of the Formula 1 on board, which by the way, allows a consumption of 40 litres per 100 km. This is the result of the regulation concerning the 30 percent fuel consumption reduction at Le Mans compared with the previous year. 06/14