Audi, Corvette win insanely close 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans

Endurance races are typically won by laps, but this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans was won by seconds after Audi and Corvette held of fierce competition despite crashing down to their final cars. The best racing, the biggest crashes, the closest times, and a very special victory for the Americans and Germans.

"Drama, excitement, all the way to the end" is how Radio Le Mans described the race and anyone watching the last few hours will signal their agreement for talking about this race for the rest of their lives.

In the overall race, it was the Audi R18 and the Peugeot 908 battling it out for the overall victory from the beginning. But after just a few minutes into the race Allan McNish in the #3 Audi R18 crashed out in spectacular fashion, followed later that night by Mike Rockenfeller in his Audi R18 destroying his car.

Audi, Corvette win insanely close 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans

With just one bullet left in their gun, the trio of Audi drivers in the #2 R18 had to fight off the trio of approaching Peugeot 908s for more than 230 laps alone. At 23-and-a-half hours there was just 6.7 seconds separating the #2 Audi of Lotterer and the #9 Peugeot of Pagenaud.

The #2 Audi bravely held off the Peugeots to win the race, followed by an almost equally brave Pagenaud in his car driving through the falling rain on old tires.

In the GTEPro class, the Corvette C6 ZR1s were both on the lead lap until late in the evening when Jan Magnussen in the leading Corvette went off in an accident with a Porsche put the Ferraris in the lead, leaving Garcia in the Chevrolet Corvette to fight his way back over the Af Corse 458 Italia for a single lap victory.

Audi, Corvette win insanely close 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans

And in GTEam, if you'd believe it, the aging Ford GT of Robertson Racing celebrated the wedding anniversary of Andrea and Davis Robertson managed to make it on the podium with a third page finish under the control of Andrea.

Finally, in LMP2 the Zytek Nissan edged out the Signatech Nissan by seven laps.

There was something to celebrate for both the French, the Germans, and the boys in Detroit. It was a victory for safety over speed, with everyone surviving their bone-shaking accidents. But the biggest win was for the people watching, who had a full 24 hours of entertainment.

Photo Credit: AP, JF Musial/FLD