LE MANS, France (AP) — Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer overcame turbocharger problems to drive Audi to its 13th title at the 24 Hours of Le Mans on Sunday.
It was the trio's third victory in the world's most famous endurance race. Their Audi No. 2 finished three laps ahead of Audi No. 1 driven by Lucas di Grassi, Marc Gene and defending champion Tom Kristensen.
Audi has now won 10 of the last 11 races at Le Mans, including the last five.
"We did like in 2011," Treluyer told Eurosport. "We stayed calm and attacked when we needed to. Andre (Lotterer) really put the pressure on Porsche at the right time."
Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Nicolas Lapierre took third place at the wheel of Toyota No. 8, five laps off the pace. Pole-sitter Kazuki Nakajima's Toyota No. 7 retired in the 15th hour while leading because of an electrical problem.
"It is heartbreaking," Nakajima told the Toyota Racing website. "Somehow I thought maybe we could make it this time and then this happens. That's Le Mans and that's why we come here to take on the challenge. We will try again."
In its return to Le Mans after a 16-year absence in the top category, Porsche fell out of contention in the 22nd hour.
Audi did not impress in qualifying with slower times than Toyota and Porsche, but it proved more reliable in a race defined by the teams' ability to solve mechanical problems.
Lotterer's Audi No. 2 took the lead in the 22nd hour when Timo Bernhard's Porsche No. 20 got stuck in the pits until the end of the race because of a drivetrain problem.
"It's very sad because we were fighting hard at the end, in fact, also for the victory," Bernhard said. "For sure, it would have been a podium. It's hard to take because the guys did a great job."
In the penultimate hour, Neel Jani's Porsche No. 14 went back to the garage while in fifth place to fix a gearbox issue. It managed to get back on the track in the final minutes, but the return proved meaningless as both Porsche No. 14 and No. 20 were not classified.
Despite its disappointing performance, Porsche still remains the most successful manufacturer at Le Mans with 16 titles.
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