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Andre Lotterer delivered home the #1 Audi R18 e-tron hybrid to a historic victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours as the German manufacturer became the first in history to win the French race using energy-harvesting technology and four-wheel drive.
It was the second successive victory for the #1 crew of Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler, and in the last hour it was a case of cruise and collect for the German as he kept the R18 on the black stuff.
The #1 car led for much of the race, interrupted only twice when Nicolas Lapierre cheekily put the Toyota briefly in front in the early stages, and more recently in the morning when Allan McNish put on a burst before crashing behind a Ferrari at the Porsche Curves.
The #2 hybrid driver kept on pushing post repairs, but in the last hour handed over to co-driver Tom Kristensen who it seemed was intent on securing second for his squad on Dindo Capello's last appearance at Le Mans. There are, after all, World Endurance Championship points at stake.
Former winner Mike Rockenfeller brought home the #4 R18 Ultra, three laps off the lead, to make it an Audi 1-2-3. Neel Jani, meanwhile, completed a monster quadruple stint to deliver Rebellion Lola its best finish at Le Mans in fourth.
The other Audi Ultra – #3 – in the hands of Loic Duval kept the afterburners lit right to the flag, but in all honesty the car was never going to recover fourth after all its problems.
Peter Dumbreck brought home the JRM HPD in sixth ahead of LMP2 winner and Daytona 24 Hours runner-up Ryan Dalziel, who brought the Starworks HPD home a creditable seventh.
Giancarlo Fisichella took the flag in GTE Pro with a brilliant win for AF Corse after racing through from the back, following the Italian's massive Porsche Curves shunt on Wednesday.
Adrian Fernandez never did quite catch Frederic Makowiecki in the end, so second place in class went to Luxury Racing, but Aston Martin has certainly signaled its intent.
The battle for GTE Am honors raged right to the end, and it was only after the last stops when Pedro Lamy's Larbre Corvette passed Anthony Pons's IMSA Porsche 911 RSR with 17 minutes to go that the matter was settled even before a puncture for Imsa. So, in the end, Lamy proved to be the only Peugeot refugee to stand on the top step of the podium in 2012.
Full race recap and results to follow.
• #2 and #3 Audis both crash in the 22nd hour requiring substantial front end repairs, ending McNish's challenge for the lead and further delaying Dumas's recovery.
• #1 Audi gets rear bodywork damage in incident with #74 Corvette, then goes wheel to wheel with #2 after repairs in next pitstop
• Mucke damages the #97 Aston Martin in a crash at Indianapolis, dropping it away from GTE Pro leaders
• The #48 ORECA-Nissan driven by Brendon Hartley has retired after contact with the Status
• Faisal spins the #75 Porsche at Porsche Curves, hitting the wall to bring the safety car out
• Marcel Fassler spins the #1 Audi e-tron at the Porsche curves, handing the lead to McNish
• Dumas tipped into a spin while passing traffic at Ford chicane
• Davidson confirms he sustained a broken back as a result of huge earlier crash
• Westbrook loses a wheel, and with it the lead of the GTE Pro class
• Peter Dumbreck suffers blow-out in the #22 JRM HPD
• Spin at Ford chicane for #21 Strakka HPD
• Problems for the #7 Toyota following collision with DeltaWing at the restart
• #29 Gulf Racing Lola B12 the first official retirement
• #40 hit with a two-minute stop and go penalty for second pitlane speeding offence
• 30s pit stop penalties for #40 and #49 LMP2s for speeding in pitlane
• Audi hits early niggles, with Tom Kristensen the third unexpected delay for the marque across its four cars
• Early GTE Pro scrap between Corvette, Aston Martin and Ferrari
• #99 Aston Martin Vantage suffers early misfire and then retires with damage