Sensational second for Gene at Le Mans

Marc Gene drove superbly to lead last weekend's Le Mans 24-Hour Race in the number 1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro. Pictures by James Beckett.
Marc Gene drove superbly to lead last weekend's Le Mans 24-Hour Race in the number 1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro. Pictures by James Beckett.
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After qualifying the Jota Sport Zytek-Nissan for the Le Mans 24-Hour Race, former Buckingham University student, Marc Gene, was given an unexpected recall to Audi Sport for the race to drive alongside Tom Kristensen and Lucas di Grassi in the team’s number 1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro.

Listed as the reserve driver for the German manufacturer, Gene returned to Audi for the 82nd running of the world famous endurance event after an accident saw Audi driver Loic Duval taken to hospital.

Marc Gene (left), Lucas di Grassi and Tom Kristensen stand on the Le Mans podium at the end of a thrilling 24-Hour Race

Marc Gene (left), Lucas di Grassi and Tom Kristensen stand on the Le Mans podium at the end of a thrilling 24-Hour Race

The Frenchman destroyed his Audi in a crash and ended his own hopes of participation in the race.

In just 14 hours, Audi Sport engineers constructed a brand new number 1 Audi R18 and with Gene now listed as a driver, the scene was set for a thrilling Le Mans battle.

The 2014 Le Mans 24 Hour Race will be long remembered as a race that saw a titanic three-day manufacturer battle between Audi, Toyota and Porsche for overall victory. Toyota led the way during the early hours before Audi took over, and with Gene in fine form, it wasn’t surprising to see the number 1 car eventually move into the lead.

Lapping quicker than any other LMP1 car, Gene swept into the lead early on Sunday morning and drove a superb quadruple stint to extend the advantage for the number 1 car at the head of the field.

With just four hours remaining, Gene handed the car over to Tom Kristensen as the leading car. Hopes for victory were high, with Gene looking for his second victory in the Grand Prix d’Endurance. However, just a few laps later, the car slowed with turbocharger problems – forcing Kristensen back to the pits.

A new turbo was fitted, which took three laps, as enough time was lost for the car to lose the lead and drop to third. After Mark Webber’s Porsche retired, Gene and his team moved into second – a position they would hold until the end of the race. The race won by the number 2 Audi R18 of Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler.

Afterwards, Gene said: “I am so pleased to have been able to finish second at Le Mans for Audi Sport, but I can’t help but feel slightly disappointed as well.

“To start the week in one car and then find myself in another was a big shock and it was then very important to do a good job for Audi. I had driven the latest R18 about two months ago, so I knew what it was like and I just got on with the business of trying to win.

“We came very close to winning and to be so near, yet so far, is frustrating, but standing on the Le Mans podium is one of the best feelings in the world. I am sure this drive will enable me to extend my career in LMP1 prototypes and I look forward to coming back to the race next year!”