Audi Electrifies Le Mans With First Ever Hybrid Win

Audi has clinched victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race and created motor racing history by becoming the first hybrid to win the famous event.

Audi entered four cars for the race and placed 1,2,3 and 5. The top two spots were claimed by driving teams riding Audi R18 e-tron quattros, a diesel-hybrid developed by the German carmaker.

audi hybrid le mans

image via Audi Sport

Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer, the winning trio and last year’s defending champions, completed 378 laps in 24 hours in Audi No. 1.

They pushed their teammates, Rinaldo Capello, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish, in Audi No. 2 into second place by just a single lap. The other two Audi racers were diesel-powered.

“We were even better prepared than last year,” winning driver Treluyer told the Associated Press. “We knew we were capable of winning. But to do it again is just magical.”

Around 200,000 spectators witnessed the race, which is run in Northern France and goes on for 24 hours nonstop. This is the first time in its history that a car using hybrid technology has won.

Audi was the not the only racing team trialing hybrid technology. Its main rival Toyota also entered two of its LMP1 hybrids.

In its first Le Mans appearance in 13 years the Japanese carmaker began well, taking the lead in the fifth hour. However, it was eventually forced out of the race following crashes involving both its cars, one of which resulted in its driver, Anthony Davidson being hospitalized with two fractured vertebrae.

The R18 e-tron quattros are significantly different from conventional hybrids. Besides the massively powerful turbo-diesel V6 running the rear wheels, the car has no batteries, which Audi technicians decided would weigh the car down too much.

Paul Willis has been journalist for a decade. Starting out in Northern England, from where he hails, he worked as a reporter on regional papers before graduating to the cut-throat world of London print media. On the way he spent a year as a correspondent in East Africa, writing about election fraud, drought and an Ethiopian version of American Idol. Since moving to America three years ago he has worked as a freelancer, working for and major newspapers in Britain, Australia and North America. He writes on subjects as diverse as travel, media ethics and human evolution. He lives in New York where, in spite of the car fumes and the sometimes eccentric driving habits of the yellow cabs, he rides his bike everywhere.


  • Reply June 20, 2012


     Ha And they laughed at me when I pointed out that the first car ever to pass the 100mph was electric – let ’em eat dust.

  • Reply July 2, 2012

    James Donohue

    It’s the same principal as the Diesel-Electric Locomotive. The railroads realized the only way to couple a diesel engine with the wheels would be by generator-electric motor. There are no shaft driven diesel locomotives. 

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