It has been described as the most demanding and unforgiving road race in the world, one that only the hardiest men and machine can hope to survive, never mind win. So, even a good showing during the 24 Hours of Le Mans is a significant achievement.
And this year’s ultimate endurance race suggests that alternative power and automotive design is ready to challenge the mainstream. With Audi’s latest high-tech entry claiming victory and the striking Delta Wing making an impressive – if short-lived – debut, even more alternative entries appear to be on the horizon, including one from Japan’s Mazda.
Already a dominant force with its diesel-powered racers, Audi took an even bolder step this year with the addition of the R18 etron Quattro – which took the checkered flag to become the first hybrid vehicle ever to win the 24-hour event. Audi snatched a compelling 1-2-3 win during the 80th running of the annual Le Mans endurance race with two R18 etrons first across the finish line followed by a more conventionally diesel-powered R18 ultra.