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Michelin Memories: 2011, Audi’s Quintuple Stint at Le Mans

A look back at the 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans and Benoit Treluyer’s mega race-winning stint…

Photo: Audi

While many will remember the 2011 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans for Allan McNish and Mike Rockenfeller’s horrific accidents, a bit of history was made with the lone-remaining Audi R18 TDI in the race, which claimed an unlikely victory thanks to its long-lasting and high-performing Michelin tires.

Following a tooth-and-nail battle with the trio of factory Peugeot 908s, the No. 2 Audi of Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer came out on top, in the narrowest of margins, following a mammoth 55-lap quintuple stint on the same set of Michelin tires from Treluyer.

A feat unheard of prior to the race, the Frenchman gained the lead from the No. 9 Peugeot during his intense 3 hour and 20-minute run on Sunday morning.

While Stephane Sarrazin in the No. 8 Peugeot had achieved similar mileage with medium compound tires in the early hours of the race, Treluyer’s
466-mile run put the Audi out front when it mattered the most, having gained roughly 20 seconds during each pit stop due to not having to take fresh tires.

“The team woke me up for the run at the last possible moment,” Treluyer recalled. “There are easier ways of waking up than to find yourself being chased by three Peugeots at Le Mans!

“My Michelin tires gave me great grip from the word go, and I was able to lap at a sufficiently quick pace to defend our lead. I was still in a position where I could push hard at the very end of my fifth stint!”

The No. 2 Audi crossed the line just 13.854 seconds ahead of the second-placed No. 9 Peugeot, giving Treluyer, Lotterer and Fassler their first of what would be three overall victories with the legendary marque in the race.

With only one Audi having remained in the running following the pair of accidents from McNish and Rockenfeller, it was one of the most remarkable races for the German manufacturer, in the first year of its diesel-powered LMP1 coupe.

Their win also gave Michelin its 14th consecutive overall victory in the twice-around-the-clock endurance classic.

“A big bravo to Benoît for his quintuple stint, which we are certainly not likely to forget in a hurry!,” said then-Michelin Competition Director Nick Shorrock.

“Congratulations, too, to Audi on their 10th Le Mans win, as well as to Peugeot for providing us with such a thrilling contest all the way to the checkered flag.

“Michelin and its partners worked without let-up to develop the current-generation cars and consistent, competitive and safe tires.”

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Matra-simca

    December 23, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    If memory serves, in 1951 a Lancia Aurelia was driven from Italy to Le Mans, finished 1st in class, then drove back to Italy all on the same set of tires.

  2. Guest

    December 23, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    It was amazing. Let’s go back to crappy American pit stop rules though. :/

    • TF110

      December 23, 2017 at 5:09 pm

      Tires allocations are still going to be limited. So you still have to double or triple stint them. It’s just now the pit stops won’t take forever.

      • Dan

        December 24, 2017 at 11:02 am

        Yeah because having to hold an extra 10 to 15 seconds longer, less for the well drilled teams whom now won’t be able to show their skills, was so long. SMH.

  3. Dan

    December 23, 2017 at 5:07 pm

    This was truly amazing. Now they want to ensure this never happens again since not changing tires won’t save you any time anymore. Tire strategy was always one of the biggest attractions to endurance racing for me and it’s being strangled to death. Now the only reason to not change tires is due to tire allocation limits and no other reason. I hope they dump and stop trying to copy NASCAR owned IMSA.

    • Matra-simca

      December 23, 2017 at 8:33 pm

      Looks like it’s a little too late for that. The NASCAR mindset is already baked into the rules, and has been for a number of years now. You can see that by how they orchestrate FCYs and pit stop procedures. Endurance racing’s actual strategic and tactical execution, an aspect that used to separate the good from the great teams, is pretty much null and void as long as one stays within a few laps of the leader. I miss that. Daytona has turned into a series of 24 one hour races punctuated by FCYs in between, for the sole purpose of creating a tight finish.

      • namewithheldtoprotecttheinnocent

        December 23, 2017 at 11:11 pm

        With about 15 minutes or so (I can’t remember exactly) in the first combined Rolex24 in 2014, a GTD Porsche spun at turn 3 but did not hit anything and actually continued. They called an FCY.

        On the corners, we were like “what the f…………k”.

        Come to find out later that Mike Helton was in the tower and yelled out “there’s your full course yellow” as soon as that car hit the grass.

        They wanted WTR to win and it put him right behind one of the Action Express DPs.

        I don’t see it getting any better.

  4. Steven

    December 23, 2017 at 5:16 pm

    The 2011 race was probably the best 24 Hours of Le Mans. The battle between Audi and Peugeot was epic.

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