In 1971, the La Sarthe circuit was slightly shorter than it is now, it had less than half the amount of corners, the Mulsanne straight was unbroken and the front running cars of the day reached higher top speeds than they do now.
Many thought, therefore, that the fastest lap in the 1971 Le Mans 24 Hours would remain the lap record forever. Yet 44 years later, thanks to the rapid progress in modern sportscar racing, it has been beaten, and by an unlikely car and driver combination.
— Sportscar One (@SportscarOne) June 13, 2015
In much the same way as he took a surprise win the in Race of Champions in 2010, Filipe Albuquerque was the unlikely driver who broke the lap record of 3:18.4 (set by Jackie Oliver in a Porsche 917LH) with an astonishing time of 3:17.647 in the #9 Audi R18 e-tron quattro.
With the track conditions constantly improving and the ‘golden hour’ just before dawn still to come, that record could fall further still. With teams and organisers already looking at ways to slow the cars down for next year, it could be another 44 years before the record is broken again. Progress is a cruel mistress.