The world’s most famous endurance race ended Sunday morning with the Peugeots shut out of the hardware despite being by far the fastest cars in the field. That left the door open for Audi, as their R15 TDIs swept the podium spots as all four Peugeots had problems and couldn’t make it to the finish. In fact, the Peugeots’ problems looked like something that would hapen to an Andretti at Indianapolis. If it could go wrong, it did go wrong.
The pole-winning HDi FAP didn’t make it to the end of four hours. Pedro Lamy brought the Peugeot into the pits with a broken suspension that also broke its monocoque. Pole winner Sebastien Bourdais and Simon Pagenaud never even got a lap in the No. 3 chassis.
The No. 1 chassis was leading when its alternator broke, necessitating a 14-minute pit stop to replace it. That dropped it behind the three Audi R15’s, although Marc Gene was gradually clawing his way back to the front by running laps two and three seconds quicker than the German machines on the 8.47-mile circuit in the dark.
And so it went for Peugeot in the P1 class. The final entry, which was being driven by Loic Duval, was fourth but apparently headed for a podium finish when it went up in flames with an hour and 15 minutes to go in the 24-hour race. Hopefully the safety team at Le Mans had a better response to Duval’s fire than the IRL safety team did to Simona de Silvestro’s fire at Texas last week. I advocated standing starts yesterday as a great way to spice up the All-Star Race, but in honor of Le Mans, I’d love to take that idea a step further for a NASCAR exhibition race. Rally starts. How cool would it be to see Tony Stewart attempt to keep up with Mark Martin as they raced towards their cars? Heck, if NASCAR implemented a Le Mans style start for Sunday’s Michigan race, Carl Edwards would have a great chance of getting his first race win since 2008.
Of course, there’s that whole “danger” aspect… you don’t want to see Edwards running over Stewart as Stewart is huffing and puffing to make it the final few feet to his car, but come on, they’re race car drivers. Danger is part of the game. If you can avoid a car while in a car, you can certainly avoid a car outside of one, right?