AUDI Win Record Breaking Le Mans

audi motorsport 100613 lemans AUDI Win Record Breaking Le MansIf you keep your head when all around are losing theirs, you’ll be the tallest person in the room. Audi kept their head and were rewarded with a remarkable 1, 2, 3 finish at the 2010 Le Mans 24 hour classic.The victorious Audi R15 TDI with Timo Bernhard (Germany), Romain Dumas (France) and Mike Rockenfeller (Germany) at the wheel, completed a total of 397 laps and setting a new distance record of 5,410 kilometres.

Second place went to Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and local driver Benoît Treluyer. Their R15 TDI lost time in the pits when the front bodywork had to be changed twice after contact with the track barriers.

In third place was the most experienced team in the Audi line up Dindo Capello, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish. Le Mans record winner Tom Kristensen lost time when he had to evade the GT2 BMW of Andy Priaulx and slid backwards against the track barrier of the Porsche corners. With fast lap times, Capello, Kristensen and McNish pushed back into the group of the front runners and in the end were rewarded with a podium result.

For Audi team boss Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich it was his most satisfying victory of all: “I am convinced that this was the most difficult Le Mans victory for Audi. We had the strongest competitors one can imagine. We did not start the weekend in a perfect way, but we worked together to reach a very good level quickly. From the outset we planned our strategy to do as long stints as possible and we used every opportunity that was offered with efficiency and reliability to achieve our goal. All drivers have shown a great performance and brought this historic 1-2-3 victory home for Audi. The team has worked perfectly.”

Peugeot, who dominated practice, qualifying and much of the race, had an event to forget with all four of their 908 HDI-FAP cars failing to finish.

The pole winning No 3 car of Sébastien Bourdais, Pedro Lamy and Simon Pagenaud led for the first three hours of the race. But a broken monocoque suspension mounting point eliminated the car early.

The three remaining Peugeots then took their place at the head of the race. But the No 1 car of Anthony Davidson, Marc Gené and Alexander Wurz was held up at nightfall with the replacement of a starter motor-alternator-management system, leaving the No 2 car of Nicolas Minassian, Franck Montagny and Stéphane Sarrazin to lead for the majority of the race until a broken engine ended their day.

Team Peugeot Total puts their hopes in car No 1, but two hours  before the finish the last factory Peugeot, also went out with a broken engine.

Finally, the Peugeot Oreca car retired for the same reason during the last hour, after having posted the fastest race lap time.

“We started at a quick pace in the face of a very strong adversary.’ said Olivier Quesnel, Director of Peugeot Sport. “We were faster than them, but we weren’t as reliable. What counts is

the final victory, not the top speed. We have had four consecutive ‘doubles’, and you know

that can’t go on forever. Unfortunately our luck turned here. But we did everything we had to,

to win.

Tomorrow we will analyse what went wrong. We have the right to be disappointed this

evening, but tomorrow morning we will get to work, to come back even stronger in 2011″

There was some small consolation for the ORECA team with their self built Oreca-AIM 01 of Soheil Ayari, Didier André and Andy Meyrick finished in fourth place overall and first of the petrol-powered cars, ahead of Aston Martin.

Aston looked set to take the spot but it was heartbreak for David Richard’s team when the car of Sam Hancock and team mates darren Turner and Juan Barazi came to a halt with less than one hour remaining.

“It’s gutting to come so close to the best result of my Le Mans career and have it snatched away at the death.” said Hancock, “The car had been fantastic up to that point and we were able to lap very consistently throughout the race. But I’m not going to dwell on it too much. The whole team has worked fantastically well this week so it’s as much of a shame for them as me.”

In LMP 2 it was the European based Strakka Racing HPD ARX 01C of Johnny Kane, Danny Watts and team owner Nick Leventis who surprised all weekend by outpacing the much heralded US based Highcroft team car led by Australian David Brabham.

Watt’s in particular was most impressive setting consistently quick lap times consistently beating the times set by last year’s outright winner Brabham.

The Highcroft eventually succumbed to mechanical problems but at no stage did they ever really look like beating the small British based outfit.

Second in LMP2 went to distinctive pink and black attack OAK Racing Pescarolo-Judd of Matthieu Lahaye, Guillaume Moreau and Jan Charouz.

Third place was taking by another veteran Le Mans team the RML Lola-HPD of Tommy Erdos, Andy Wallace and Mike Newton.

The small GT1 field self destructed fairly early in the race leaving the oldest design in the field the Saleen S7-R to take the class win. The Larbre Competition machine of Gabriel Gardel, Roland Berville and Julien Canal, finished 13th overall in what will be the final Le Mans appearance of the class.

Like the outright positions, reliability and consistency came out on top in GT2. The Team Felbermayr-Proton Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Marc Lieb, Richard Lietz and Wolf Henzler outlasted the faster cars to take the win.

Second place went to Australian based Danish driver Allan Simonsen. Driving the Hancook Ferrari along with Dominik Farnbacher and Leh Keen, the Ferrari finished two laps down on the leader.

The BMS Scuderia Italia Porsche with the experienced team of Timo Scheider, Richard Westbrook and Marco Holzer completed the podium in third.

All in all it was yet another Le Mans classic and yet another reason why the race remains amongst all others the greatest event in all motorsport.

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