JUN 29th 2014

Revealing the secret of Audi's 2014 Le Mans 'winner' at FoS

That Le Mans winning Audi blasting up the hill at FoS this weekend is not quite what it seems…

This is actually the No1 R18 e-tron quattro of Tom Kristensen and co that came second in the French classic earlier in June. The winning car, No2, is still needed by the FIA in France for scrutineering.

Audi R18

Matthias Huber (pic: Bob Murray)

But after a quick switch of numbers and driver stickers, you would have to be eagle-eyed in the extreme to tell the difference – especially with winning driver Andre Lotterer behind the wheel. ‘In all other ways the cars are identical,’ said Audi LMP race and development engineer Matthias Huber, one of the Le Mans crew here at Goodwood over the weekend, and, said Matthias, enjoying every minute of it.

Matthias said: ‘This is my first Festival of Speed and it is more incredible than I ever imagined.’

But what about that Le Mans one-two – did you expect to win, what with Porsche back in La Sarthe?

‘We didn’t expect, but we hoped. It was always going to be a tough race, and it was very tight all the way through, right to the chequered flag. Next year will be a challenge but if you are up against good competitors it makes our job more interesting.’

Andre Lotterer has driven the hill three times before and despite hitting more than 220 km/h, about 135mph, was never going to threaten the 41.6sec record, according to Matthias. ‘He is enjoying the car but it’s a bit difficult because it’s set up for Le Mans, very different from Goodwood. So we could never go for a time.’

Oh well, we’ll forgive them. Winning 13 out of the past 16 Le Mans is after all pretty impressive. And seeing and hearing such an impressive bit of kit at Goodwood is wonderful – even if, as we at least now know, it’s not actually the winner…

Gallery photography: Richard Pardon

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