Audi R18 e-tron driven by André Lotterer,  Benoît Tréluyer and Marcel Fässler wins the battle between Toyota and Porsche at Le Mans 24 Hours car race.

Yesterday’s Le Mans 24 Hours 2014 was won by Audi’s hybrid race car in the LMP1 class. Driven by André Lotterer,  Benoît Tréluyer and Marcel Fässler, Audi’s No. 2 Sport Joest R18 e-tron stole the show yesterday with its impressive victory. Audi also finished in second position with its No. 1 Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro driven by Lucas di Grassi, Marc Gene and Tom Kristensen. Dominating the race, Audi is definitely the big winner of the year, showcasing the most impressive hybrid technology in front of its big competitors Toyota and Porsche, who also used electric energy recovery systems.

The winning Audi completed the 24 hours race with a fastest lap of 3:22 minutes and  3 laps ahead of the second car. Both cars have electrically powered front wheels with a diesel engine powering the rear wheels. The front wheel electrical drivetrain includes regenerative braking similar to that used in an F1 car. The energy is stored in a flywheel located next to the driver and once released, is transmitted to the front wheels between to braking phases.

Toyota participated with its TS 040 hybrid car driven by Anthony Davidson, Nicolas Lapierre and Sébastien Buemi.  Despite the Toyota racing team’s fine efforts and their impressive performance in the initial period of the race – the car had to recover from being badly damaged due to accident in the heavy rain which pushed it back to the third place. Toyota’s hybrid technology, used a different approach to electric energy recovery, with a super capacitor storing energy. This was particularly exciting from a technology development perspective.

Porsche’s 919 Hybrid was the third team competing in the race with hybrid technology. The car maker introduced this prototype featuring new and conventional technology. The car uses a two litre turbo-charged V8 engine linked to a motor generator and acting as an energy recovery system with the energy being stored in lithium-ion batteries. In the beginning of the race, I was very pleased to see the Porsche team drivers Mark Webber, Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard showing the hybrid supercar’s great potential. Unfortunately, towards the end of the race on Sunday a severely damaged powertrain forced them to slow down and complete the race at position 13.

This year’s Le Mans 24 Hours was a challenge for the three manufactures and a chance to show what hybrid new technologies can do. I think that Audi’s car was a great example of speed, safety and reliability. Surely a shame for Porsche, but I believe that the bottom line is that the car managed to go this far and actually cross the line despite its broken engine. It is interesting to note that it was conventional engineering that hindered the car’s performance and not its new, hybrid technology. As for Toyota, its high-tech hybrid prototype proved just how reliable this race car can be.