|Audi beat the faster Peugeots with better team work|
Alan McNish finally got his Rolex at Les 24 Heures du Mans after a tough fight to victory in the legendary 24-hour race. McNish's Audi team fought hard to overcome the three Peugeots ahead on the grid, eventually took the lead after thirteen hours and never looked back, winning in front of 285,500 spectators.
Only 33 cars finished this rather wet 76th running of the 24 Heures du Mans at the Sarthe circuit, passing underneath the Rolex clock which stopped at 3pm on the dot (Paris time). Audi won the race and two Peugeots were on the podium in 2nd and 3rd overall (number 7, Marc Gené, Nicolas Minassian and Jacques Villeneuve and number 9, Franck Montagny, Christian Klien and Ricardo Zonta).
|Tom Kristensen brings the Audi home first. It was his 8th win at LeMans|
The number 2 Audi Sport R10 with Tom Kristensen at the wheel made the best of the wet conditions in the early morning of Les 24 Heures du Mans, taking the overall lead for Audi from its French rivals Peugeot during the mysterious night at Le Mans.
Now in his 12th participation, Tom Kristensen takes a phenomenal record 8th 24 Heures du Mans win, the result of a brilliant team effort that included long team stints. Italian Dindo Capello shared the win with Kristensen and Alan McNish. The Audi drivers maintained their advantage despite a downpour in the final hour that made conditions very slippery.
|GT2 class winning Risi Ferrari|
The race started to come together for Audi in the 13th hour, when Capello took the lead of the race for the first time after a pit stop as Villeneuve rejoined around five seconds behind the number 2 Audi R10.
The 20th hour was also decisive. Dindo Capello was lapping in 4.03.828 on wet tires, while Jacques Villeneuve, on dry tires, was lapping much faster in 3.57.789 and thus passed him again and retook the lead of the race.
Time was dropping again between the Audis and Peugeot. It became clear a couple hours before the end of the race that Audi and Peugeot would be together on the podium, but no one knew at this point in which order.
Creating a bit of unexpected emotion, at 12.51, the Audi number 2 spun on water at Arnage, but continued, as Kristensen got things back in a rhythm. With only two hours to go until the end of the race, the small gap of 2'44" established between the two cars shrank down to 2'32" with the rain to. In the last hour, the emotion was at its highest for the spectators as the rain was falling intermittently. The danger level was growing and everyone was on edge.
An unexpected technical problem almost ruined number 7 Nicolas Minassian's efforts for second place in the 376th lap, forcing him to pit a few seconds after Tom Kristensen completed his final pit stop in the Audi, with thirteen minutes remaining in the final stint.
In the other categories, Holland's Peter Van Merksteijn took 10th position at the head of the LMP2 class, seven laps ahead of his competitors. Their position was strengthened when Casper Elgaard picked up a misfire in the Team Essex Porsche RS Spyder. The Porsche 31 from Essex finished second in their category. "The car is strong. It can stand on its own and we just needed to avoid making any mistakes," commented Jos Verstappen, one of the co-drivers. Frankie Cheng, the first Chinese driver to be among the Le Mans finishers also went straight to the podium in his class in 3rd place, yet another great achievement.
Aston Martin number 009 took over from Corvette in the LMGT1 category, with David Brabham, Daren Turner and A. Garcia just ahead of Ron Fellow's Corvette that finished 2nd in its category, a strong competitor. "A great race," said Fellow. "We did not expect such a tough fight. A bit disappointing though, not to win, as we were better prepared than last year, but Le Mans is still my favorite race."
Still in LMGT1 Gavin's Corvette 64 was the third fastest ahead of 007 Aston Martin (Heinz-Harald Frentzen) which finished 4th and Polican's Corvette number 72 which finished 5th. "A great strategy. It turned out this way, but we will be back next year," said Britain's Oliver Gavin.
Mika Salo (Ferrari number 82) was at the top of the LMGT2 category and in 19th place overall. "The car worked well," he said. "I had no problems what-so-ever. We won everything last year except Le Mans and this year we win Le Mans but have a miserable season," Salo laughs. "It is just a great day. I am very happy."
The 15th of June at exactly 3pm according to the official Rolex clock, 33 out of 55 competitors finished the 2008 24 Heures du Mans, the greatest endurance race in the world.
Rolex is the Official Timekeeper for the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Le Mans Series. In North America, Rolex has been the title sponsor for the Rolex 24 At Daytona since 1959.
Audi Team Quotes
|LMP1 class victory podium|
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 favorite, 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 tire 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 favorites. 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 tires do we go for, which ones are available at all? Everything worked well. The guys sometimes received their instructions regarding the tire 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."
Hour 24 Standings
||Audi Sport North America CAPELLO R./KRISTENSEN T./McNISH A. Audi R10 TDI
||3:24.152 -106 |
||Team Peugeot Total GENE M./MINASSIAN N./VILLENEUVE J. Peugeot 908 Hdi-FAP
||3:21.438 -78 |
||Peugeot Sport Total MONTAGNY F./KLIEN C./ZONTA R. Peugeot 908 Hdi-FAP
||2 L 215,009
||3:20.600 -86 |
||Audi Sport Team Joest LUHR L./PREMAT A./ROCKENFELLER M. Audi R10 TDI
||7 L 212,273
||3:23.939 -75 |
||Team Peugeot Total LAMY P./SARRAZIN S./WURZ A. Peugeot 908 Hdi-FAP
||13 L 208,567
||3:19.394 -102 |
||Audi Sport North America BIELA F./PIRRO E./WERNER M. Audi R10 TDI
||14 L 208,103
||3:25.166 -78 |
||Pescarolo Sport PRIMAT H./TINSEAU C./TRELUYER B. Pescarolo Judd
||19 L 205,457
||3:30.610 -80 |
||Team Oreca Matmut AYARI S./DUVAL L./GROPPI L. Courage-Oreca Judd
||24 L 202,577
||3:30.543 -139 |
||Charouz Racing System MUCKE S./ENGE T./CHAROUZ J. Lola Aston Martin
||27 L 200,685
||3:28.131 -61 |
||Van Merksteijn Motorsport VAN MERKSTEIJN P./VERSTAPPEN J./BLEEKEMOLEN Porsche RS Spyder
||3:34.188 -103 |
||Rollcentre Racing BARBOSA J/ICKX V./GREGOIRE S. Pescarolo Judd
||29 L 199,537
||3:35.601 -92 |
||Team Essex ELGAARD C./NIELSEN J./MAASSEN S. Porsche RS Spyder
||34 L 196,271
||3:36.562 -160 |
||Aston Martin Racing BRABHAM D./GARCIA A./TURNER D. Aston Martin DBR9
||37 L 195,159
||3:49.387 -149 |
||Corvette Racing FELLOWS R./OCONNELL J./MAGNUSSEN J. Corvette C6.R
||3:50.650 -97 |
||Corvette Racing GAVIN O./BERETTA O./PAPIS M. Corvette C6.R
||40 L 193,477
||3:49.707 -191 |
||Aston Martin Racing FRENZEN H-H./PICCINI A./WENDLINGER K. Aston Martin DBR9
||42 L 191,927
||3:49.820 -115 |
||Luc Alphand Aventures ALPHAND L./MOREAU G./POLICAND J. Corvette C6.R
||46 L 189,954
||3:54.006 -33 |
||Saulnier Racing RAGUES P./LAHAYE M./CHENG CONG F. Pescarolo Judd
||48 L 189,026
||3:44.293 -93 |
||Risi Competizione MELO J./SALO M./BRUNI G. Ferrari F430 GT
||55 L 184,620
||4:02.086 -88 |
||Quifel ASM Team AMARAL M./PLA O./SMITH G. Lola AER
||56 L 183,999
||3:41.064 -101 |
||Luc Alphand Aventures BLANCHEMAIN J.L./GOUESLARD P./PASQUALI L. Corvette C6.R
||3:57.217 -2 |
||BMS Scuderia Italia MALUCELLI M./RUBERTI P./BABINI F. Ferrari F430 GT
||63 L 180,452
||4:02.776 -59 |
||Farnbacher Racing EHRET P./KAFFER P./NIELSEN L-E. Ferrari F430 GT
||64 L 179,965
||4:03.381 -88 |
||Creation AIM HALL S./MOWLEM J./GOOSSENS M. Creation Aim
||65 L 178,962
||3:39.052 -79 |
||JMB Racing AUCOTT B./FERTE A./DAOUDI ST. Ferrari F430 GT
||69 L 176,993
||4:04.738 -76 |
||Saulnier Racing NICOLET J./FAGGIONATO M./HEIN R. Pescarolo Judd
||70 L 176,082
||3:44.289 -293 |
||Team Felbermayr-Proton DAVISON A./HENZLER W./FELBERMAYR H. Sen Porsche 997 GT3 RSR
||72 L 174,873
||4:00.709 -86 |
||Larbre Competition BOUCHUT CH./BORNHAUSER P./SMET D. Saleen S7R
||75 L 173,021
||3:51.727 -53 |
||Barazi Epsilon BARAZI J./VERGERS M./MOSELEY S. Zytek 07S
||77 L 172,546
||3:39.082 -24 |
||Team Modena FITTIPALDI C./BORCHELLER T./MENTEN J. Aston Martin DBR9
||79 L 171,202
||3:53.086 -144 |
||Bruichladdich Radical ROSTAN M./DEVLIN B./JEANNETTE G. Radical AER
||84 L 168,612
||3:46.031 -78 |
||Flying Lizard Motorsports NEIMAN S./BERGMEISTER J./VAN OVERBEEK J. Porsche 997 GT3 RSR
||92 L 164,008
||3:59.887 -48 |
||Dome Racing Team ITO D./TACHIKAWA Y./KATAOKA T. Dome Judd S102
||109 L 153,834
||3:29.504 -3 |
||IPB Spartak Racing RUSINOV R./KOX P./HEZEMANS M. Lamborghini
||115 L 150,981
||3:55.713 -4 |
||Terramos TERADA Y./TAKAHASHI K./KATOH H. Courage Mugen 24:02:42.179 --
||157 L 126,966
||Did Not Finish|