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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 hours.

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 2004.

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.”

7/7/2023, 10:56:38 PM cet
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