The old adage above still applies. And after Audi’s THIRTEENTH victory at Le Mans even the most bitter sour bastard must realize that the Germans know a thing or two about endurance racing at La Sarthe. Immediately after the race I felt like buying an Audi.
This year Audi even had to fight it out with both Porsche and Toyota, no newcomers at the French classic either. All three lead the race at various stages and in fact there was real excitement about the outcome. In the end it all went down as usual and Audis crossed the line in solitude as superior number one and two. It wasn’t just their thirteenth victory, it was too rather tiring. And certainly it is not because of this latest victory at Le Mans that I’d like an Audi.
No, my biggest recognition of the superior Audis this year comes from the fact that the team’s mechanics gave a standing ovation when the wounded Porsche returned to the track in the race final phase: Audi actually applauded the challenge. As many others I had high hopes for Porsche and it came as a slight surprise (to me at least, but then again what do I know about moderns?) that Toyota were in the running as well, but that certainly added to the excitement. And their car even used a proper V8!
With fourteen victories at Le Mans it was however Porsche that had something to live up to and finally, finally, they had a car that could do it. Sure, I acknowledge that thay have never really been away from Le Mans as 911’s were as numerous as ever over the recent years, but here we’re talking about the victory in classement general.
Of course Audi knows almost as much about Porsche’s merits as Porsche themselves and before the Le Mans 2014 made this little video as a nod towards their challengers:
Beautiful, isn’t it? Immediately after viweing this piece Audi had my sympathy and the mechanics’ gesture in the final hours of the Le Mans race yesterday showed that it was not empty words and PR-spin. Porsche and Audi had a good race, and the Ingolstadt maker of middle class cars had beaten the sports car manufacturer from Zuffenhausen but in the process showed respect and gratitude for the challenge. Sportsmanship is not dead.
Personally I am quite tired of seeing Audi winning each and every time with their now soulless engine notes and I suspect many share that feeling. But no matter what Audi CAN NOT be blamed for being the best at Le Mans. In the same way you can’t really blame them for their brilliant sales figures for road cars or the status the marque has achieved. In recent years Audi and the rest the rest of VAG Group have taken a firm grasp of the middle class and are arguably the dominant player in this field. Clearly they are doing something right and building something that customers want to buy – and they have done so for a long time. With the tiring thirteenth Le Mans victory even I am almost convinced – now I’d like to have an Audi.
But diesel? No, thank you, the injectors are troublesome and the sound is terrible. Turbo, nonono – one more thing that can break. Rear wheel drive? Preferably not as in Audi’s world this comes only in quattro packages, and hence more to go wrong. Electronics? Not after seeing Tom Kristensen stop out on track and make a “reboot” of the systems.
In fact I don’t want a new Audi at all and instead have these three candidates for my analogue Audi:
Audi 100 Avant
Some bitter old buggers may reject the first two as not being real Audis – and they will be right, though the family relationship is just as it should be. But the third candidate is one hundred percent pure Audi and all the better for it: The 100 of this particular generation (the second, as you will know – it debuted in 1978) was probably the car that first lifted the Audi out of the mediocre middle class and into the upper. It sold like hot cakes on a Sunday Le Mans morning. It became the first Audi that was built in more than a million examples and the first to feature the five-cylinder engines that the marque later became famous for. True to its time it came with sumptuous velvet and metallic green colors and even the fivecylinder versions could be had with a carburettor.
Mine must be an Avant, a kind of German Rover SD1, just much less sexy and much less problematic. I might, just might, put a sticker in the window proudly proclaiming “13-facher Le Mans-Sieger” (“13 times winner at Le Mans”), right next to the ViaRETRO-sticker.
But really, more Audi than a carburetted fivecylinder 100 Avant I do not need.
ViaRETRO bonus information: The graphics type at the bottom of the gallery commonly known as a timeline is in German called “eine Zeitstrahl”.