While the rest of the world was distracted by the Audi V. Toyota battle a little company named Lotus was quietly (figuratively speaking) strategizing in a corner on how to run a competitive race with what is now perceived as “old” gas technology.
Audi swept the podium but its that one quiet spot just off the podium that seemed to have stolen the spot light from the two major competitors of the Le Mans LMP1 and LMP2 categories.
Lotus, a company plagued with identity issues recently, successfully secured 4th place splitting Audi’s plans of a top 4 lockout. Toyota seemed to suffer from an anxious group of drivers looking to stake their name in the Le Mans history books along with a frightening crash involving a Ferrari GT car in the 5th hour of the race. The driver (Anthony Davidson) is said to be recovering well after suffering a broken back.
Where Lotus seemed to shine was in sheer determination, strategy and pace. The #12 car, piloted by Nick Heidfeld, Neel Jani and Nicolas Prost (son of the legendary Formula One driver Alan Prost) seemed to be right in the way of Audi’s top four plans. Successfully holding onto fourth from the seventh hour to literally the break of dawn, having no issues in the ink black night of Le Mans.
As the sun began to paint the course with color in the morning Lotus settled into a strong finishing pace. Setting the fastest lap with their gearbox plagued #13 car. Sadly the #13 car driven by Andrea Belicchi, Harold Primat and Jeroen Bleekemolen would have to retire with a massive clutch issue.
With the #13 car out the #12 had to perform like it had never done before. Neel Jani did so by setting lap times faster than qualifying and with the final hours of the race in sight Jani handed over the controls to local favorite Nicolas Prost. Who then took the checkered flag securing 4th place and putting a small black and gold splinter into the palm of Audi.