Le Mans, France, In a field of naturally aspirated (LOUD) V10 Judds, V-12 BMWs and a host of V-8 Panoz cars, the whisper quiet Audi's screamed to a one, two and three finish at the legendary 24-hour race.
The Audi R8 driven by Frank Biela, Emanuele Pirro and Tom Kristensen quietly won Le Mans in dominating fashion.
The Audi's relinquished the lead for only three laps to the Panoz of David Brabham. After retaking the lead, the R8's were never to be challenged at the front, except by each other. "There were no team orders, we were pushing our car quite hard the whole race. When we made our last pit stop we realized that were not going to make up two minutes. It was a great accomplishment to get the pole," said Allan McNish.
The Audi's had several punctured tires as a result of debris on the track. "We had a puncture early in the race and Christian Abt had to go slowly around the track and that put us down a lap, which was difficult to make up racing against your teammates with the same great cars," said Michele Alboreto.
"It was an absolutely perfect race. The team was able to overcome a couple of circumstances that proved ruin some to our competitors throughout the event. Our pit stops were magic, especially when we serviced the rear assembly of the car. Every Audi employee and every Audi customer can take part in this celebration, it was a spectacular win," said Len Hunt, head of Audi Sport North America.
<pre> Race Statistics: * Audi R8 #8 368 laps * Audi R8 #9 367 * Audi R8 #7 365 * Next closest competitor was the Courage completing 344 laps. * This statistic bests last years laps completed by the winning BMW of 366 by 2 * The average speed for the winning Audi was 208. * Allan McNish set fast lap of the race a 3:37.359 on lap 223. * Most laps completed by an Audi driver was Michele Alboreto with 154, second was Frank Beila with 138 and third was Stephane Ortelli with 127. * Audi led the entire 24 hours except for 10 minutes by the Brabham Panoz car.
"We had a few problems throughout the race, one of them was the changing of the rear end. We made the strategy decision to change the complete assembly instead of trying to change small parts, because this we could do very quickly," said Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, head of Audi Sport.
Le Mans Top 10 Laps Completed 1. Audi R8 Biela/Kristensen/Pirro 368 2. Audi R8 Aiello/McNish/Ortelli 367 3. Audi R8 Apt/Alboreto/Capello 365 4. Courage Bourdais/Grouillard/Clerico 344 5. Panoz O'Connell/Katoh/Raphanel 342 6. Panoz Suzuki/Kageyama//Kageyama 340 7. Viper Berretta/Wendlinger/Dupuy 333 8. Panoz Tsuchiya/Kondo/Iida 330 9. Viper Donohue/Amorin/Beltoise 328 10. Corvette Pilgrim/Collins/Freon 327