Shortly before the 24 Hours of Le Mans moved into its seventh hour, the race-leading No. 1 Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro of Benoit Treluyer, Andre Lotterer and Marcel Fassler suffered problems and was forced into the garage, where its crew has feverishly begun work in an attempt to alleviate the issue.
Audi had been tight-lipped about the problem, with the only piece of information relayed by American race broadcaster SPEED Channel being that the No. 1 has an issue with its “electric generator.” The team later tweeted that the alternator was being changed on the No. 1 machine.
As a result, the No. 2 Audi R18 of Loic Duval, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish has taken the overall lead with the twin Toyota Racing TS 030 Hybrids moving to second (No. 8 – Stephane Sarrazin, Sebastien Buemi and Anthony Davidson) and third (No. 7 – Kazuki Nakajima, Nicolas Lapierre and Alex Wurz) ahead of the No. 3 Audi R18 (Marc Gene, Lucas di Grassi and Oliver Jarvis), which has fallen back to fourth after pitting for a tire puncture.
The No. 1 team has fallen back currently to 15th overall, as Kristensen has taken over the No. 2 Audi and Sarrazin is now in the No. 8 Toyota.
Audi bid farewell to its iconic head of motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, at its end-of-season ‘Race Night’ event in Germany on Friday upon his retirement.
Ullrich took over the reins as Audi’s head of motorsport in 1993 and stayed in the role for 23 years, overseeing its arrival in the prototype class of sports car racing and domination of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Ullrich stepped down from the position at the end of 2016, handing the reins over to ex-Audi DTM chief Dieter Gass, and attended his final racing event with the German marque at its first works Formula E outing in Hong Kong earlier this month.
Ullrich was honored at the Race Night event on Friday and thanked for his efforts in developing Audi into a force within global motorsport.
“In 566 factory-backed commitments during this period he celebrated 209 victories, 13 of them in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, eleven in the 12-hour race at Sebring and nine in the ‘Petit Le Mans’ at Road Atlanta,” a piece on Ullrich’s tenure for Audi’s website reads.
“31 driver titles in super touring car racing, in the DTM and in the sports prototype category are credited to him. 57 campaigners were Audi factory drivers during Wolfgang Ullrich’s era and he was responsible for 18 new developments of racing cars – an impressive tally.”