Le Mans, June 15th, 2008
The Audi R10 TDI remains unbeaten in the Le Mans 24 Hour race: in its
third attempt, the diesel sportscar won the French endurance classic
yet again. After the incredible thrill of the 76th edition of the race, Dindo
Capello (Italy), Tom Kristensen (Denmark) and Allan McNish (Scotland)
triumphed at the wheel of the Audi R10 TDI number 2.
The widely anticipated duel between Audi and Peugeot definitely kept its
promise: in front of a record crowd of 258,500 spectators, the two car
manufacturers entered into a thrilling battle with their diesel sportscars
which Audi finally won by a margin of 4m 31s.
During the entire race distance, the winning Audi R10 TDI and the best
Peugeot 908 was never separated by more than a lap. After Peugeot
initially set the pace, both the reliability and efficiency of the Audi R10 TDI
gained the upper hand at night. After rain set in at Le Mans, Dindo
Capello, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish took the lead at 05:17 and
held it until the finish at 15:00 hours.
On a rain-soaked track, the Audi drivers fully profited from the superiority
of Audi TDI Power and led the field by a margin of one lap. In addition,
they took advantage of the fact that Audi Sport Team Joest had entered
the race with a set-up that was the best compromise for both dry and wet
track surfaces. Whilst the opposition had to change their cars during the
race to a rain set-up, Audi only needed to change tyres.
Changing tyres, however, was an exercise that was practiced frequently
as the conditions changed throughout the second half of the race owing
to the weather. Slicks, intermediates, and rain tyres – it was crucial to take
the most suitable tyres at the correct time.
Audi Sport Team Joest and the Audi drivers fully exploited their experience
and operated faultlessly. The only frightening moment occurred in the
dramatic final phase when there was a collision between the leading car
and a backmarker involving the innocent Tom Kristensen. In that
situation, the sheer strength of the Audi R10 TDI became visible as well.
The car ran faultlessly without the slightest technical lapse during the 24
Scotsman Allan McNish scored his second Le Mans victory after his
inaugural 1998 triumph – 2008 being his first win with Audi. Tom
Kristensen, from Denmark, extended his existing record to eight Le Mans
victories now. Italian Dindo Capello won for the third time after 2003 and
For Audi Sport Team Joest, it was the third successive victory with the
Audi R10 TDI. Thus, a hat-trick has been achieved for the second time
after 2000, 2001 and 2002: three Le Mans victories achieved by one team.
The Le Mans winners’ trophy that normally needs to be returned 12
months after each single victory is therefore in the possession of AUDI
AG for good.
The other two Audi R10 TDI cars finished fourth and sixth. Youngsters
Lucas Luhr, Alexandre Prémat and Mike Rockenfeller were in contention
for a podium finish until shortly before the end and had previously
occupied third place. In the penultimate hour of the race, however, the oil
filter of their V12 TDI engine had to be changed.
Frank Biela, Emanuele Pirro and Marco Werner also encountered bad
luck: the winning trio of 2006 and 2007 lost all chances for a better result
on Sunday morning when a clutch had to be changed owing to a spin and
the subsequent re-start in second gear.
In its tenth attempt, Audi has won the Le Mans 24 Hour race for the eighth
time. Since 2000, Audi technology has been victorious at Le Mans. "This
was a success of drivers, team and the efficiency of the Audi TDI
technology – a triumph of reliability”, said Rupert Stadler, Head of the
Board of Management of AUDI AG who followed the race at Le Mans
personally in the Audi pit garage. "It was the most tense Le Mans race I
remember. We had a very strong opponent who had an extremely fast car.
But once more, it became obvious that Le Mans particularly rewards
reliability and efficiency. I am proud of this team. And every Audi employee
and customer can be proud, too.”
Quotes after the Le Mans 24 Hours
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport)
"The 2008 Le Mans 24 Hour race will become part of history as a unique
race. It was a tense race for the whole duration of 24 hours. We didn’t
enter the race as the favourite, but our success was the result of good
performances and a faultless showing – and we achieved that against
strong opponent. I think you couldn’t imagine a better race for the
spectators. Audi once again showed that its slogan "Vorsprung durch
Technik" is true."
Dindo Capello (Audi R10 TDI #2)
"It was a great race, a perfect race. I’m totally happy and proud to be part
of this team. The only possibility for us to beat the faster Peugeots was a
race without mistakes. The team did an incredible job. Our Audi did not
have the slightest problem. We did not lose a single second in the pits.
Like this we were able to beat Peugeot. Audi has the right people to win
races even if for once we do not have the fastest car. We’ve showed that.”
Tom Kristensen (Audi R10 TDI #2)
"Wow! What a race. This was the extension of Allan (McNish), Dindo
(Capello) and myself from last year. We just grew into the race getting
better and more confident all the time. We forgot all that talking that we
can’t win together or can’t win with the ‘yellow’ car. Thanks to Audi! They
trust in us. They prepared us a race car which we could race and really
push hard through 24 hours to win against great opposition from
Peugeot. We did a perfect race thanks to our engineer Howden (Haynes)
and all the people in the background including Ralf Jüttner and Dr
Wolfgang Ullrich. They all made the right calls in terms of the right tyre
choices during this crazy showers. Allan deserved to finally win Le Mans
with Audi. Dindo is a fantastic Italian gentleman and very fast. I hope we
can do many more Le Mans races together.”
Allan McNish (Audi R10 TDI #2)
"I’m overjoyed to have finally won the Le Mans 24 Hours with Audi. I’ve
come very close on numerous occasions in the past but despite fierce
opposition from start to finish, some of the most demanding and difficult
track conditions, and unpredictable weather, I’ve finally done it – my
thanks to everyone at Audi Sport and Team Joest. I didn’t take risks at the
start and was happy to follow the Peugeots. But they soon encountered
problems of varying degrees. The track was treacherous in the rain –
greasy and slippery – like driving on ice. Thankfully the car was very sure-
footed but driving in those conditions for over three hours required 100%
concentration because if you made the slightest mistake, you just didn’t
go wide, you would have crashed off and out of the race.”
Lucas Luhr (Audi R10 TDI #3)
"Heart-full Congratulations to the whole Audi Team, Joest, Tom
(Kristensen), Allan (McNish) and Dindo (Capello). They did a fantastic job
and deserved the victory. Our race was okay, but we lost some time at the
beginning. At the end we had to come twice into the garage ending our
battle with the #9 Peugeot prematurely. We just missed the podium with
our fourth place. But we have the chance for improvements next year...”
Alexandre Prémat (Audi R10 TDI #3)
"I’m very happy about my first finish at Le Mans. We just missed the
podium by finishing fourth. This is a really good result because the fight
between the six diesel-powered cars from Audi and Peugeot was very
tough. I think Lucas (Luhr), Mike (Rockenfeller) and I did a very good job.
We can only be happy. We get a lot of experience this year for the future.”
Mike Rockenfeller (Audi R10 TDI #3)
"We knew before it would be a great and extremely difficult race. We three
gave everything, but unfortunately it was not enough for Alex (Prémat),
Lucas (Luhr) and me to make it onto the rostrum. We had some minor
problems, and in such a strong field this means you can’t be at the top.
But we three learnt a lot and now we hope that we can attack again next
year and maybe make it onto the podium.”
Frank Biela (Audi R10 TDI #1)
"I certainly expected more but it is as it is. The good thing is that Audi has
won today – in spite of the strong performance that Peugeot has shown in
practice. My sincerest congratulations. Also, I want to extend my wishes to
the three winners.”
Emanuele Pirro (Audi R10 TDI #1)
"It’s been an unbelievable and fantastic race. Allan (McNish), Dindo
(Capello) and Tom (Kristensen) really deserve this victory because they
did a fantastic job. It proves that even with a faster car that you can’t win
when you don’t have the right package (I mean Peugeot). It was a great
day for Audi. As far as we are concerned I’m not so happy about our race.
We did not have the luck, we did not have enough speed this year. This
has been quite an unfortunate race for us.”
Marco Werner (Audi R10 TDI #1)
"I’m very proud to be part of the team which has again won Le Mans.
Congratulations to Allan (McNish), Dindo (Capello), Tom (Kristensen)
and Audi for the victory. Of course it’s a shame that not all of our cars
made it to the top of the field. As expected it was a tough weekend. Two
cars had some little issues, but one car completed the race without
difficulties and won thanks to the great reliability. What else do you want?”
Ralf Jüttner (Technischer Direktor Audi Sport Team Joest)
"This race was absolutely crazy. We didn’t start as the favourites. Still, we
always believed we could do it and I had a good feeling without knowing
why. Initially, Peugeot has been quicker as expected. But then our
opponent had to fight some gremlins and we followed closely. At a certain
stage, everything went well for Peugeot and we dropped back slightly.
Then came the weather which was chaotic. It required decisions at very
short notice: which tyres do we go for, which ones are available at all?
Everything worked well. The guys sometimes received their instructions
regarding the tyre variant barely seconds before the pitstops. Not a single
fault of the crew, the strategy was good, the drivers made no mistakes.
This is something extremely unusual in a 24 Hour race. That’s why this
race will have a special place in my memory.”