Audi pre-race notes

News from the Audi Le Mans team Ingolstadt/Le Mans -- The 77th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans attracted not only about 200,000 spectators. Numerous members of supervisory and executives representing the Volkswagen concern followed the ...

News from the Audi Le Mans team

Ingolstadt/Le Mans -- The 77th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans attracted not only about 200,000 spectators. Numerous members of supervisory and executives representing the Volkswagen concern followed the appearance of the three Audi R15 TDI live from the pits. News from the Le Mans paddock.

The "fascination of Le Mans" attracted nine board members from the Volkswagen concern: Prof. Dr. Ferdinand Piech (Supervisory Board Chairman of Volkswagen AG), Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn (Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen AG), Rupert Stadler (Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG), Dr. Franz-Josef Paefgen (Chairman of the Board of Management of Bentley), Michael Dick (Board Member for Technical Development of AUDI AG), Frank Dreves (Board Member for Production of AUDI AG), Axel Strotbek (Board Member for Finance and Organization of AUDI AG), Peter Schwarzenbauer (Board Member for Marketing and Sales of AUDI AG) as well as Prof. Dr. Jochem Heizmann (Board Member for Group Production of Volkswagen AG).

100 years Audi, 40 years Reinhold Joest at Le Mans: Today's Audi Sport Team Joest Team Director competed for the first time in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1969 and, at that time, claimed a sixth place finish on his debut. Up to and including 2008 he has recorded a total of ten victories as Team Director.

In keeping with the past, tire manufacturer Michelin honored last year's winners of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This year Dindo Capello, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish were each awarded a high-quality mountain bike.

Further enjoyable duties resulting from last year's Audi victory were performed by Dindo Capello, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish in the Le Mans town center. They made the traditional handprints in the pedestrian zone. Audi also produced something unique in the process: For the first time ever there were not only three but four handprints on the plaque -- Dr Wolfgang Ullrich was also given the opportunity to immortalize himself.

Year after year several tens-of-thousands of Danish fans make the pilgrimage to Le Mans, more than 30,000 of them were expected yet again this year. Tom Kristensen visited his compatriots in three different Danish camps. Team mates Dindo Capello and Allan McNish accompanied the Danish Audi driver, who was warmly rejoiced everywhere, to the 'tent town' in the Parc du Raccordement.

The Le Mans organizers ACO conjured up a special offer for the many German fans by staging an autograph session at the "German Quarter" at Arnage for every German competitor -- including music from a German brass band. The four German drivers Timo Bernhard, Lucas Luhr, Mike Rockenfeller and Marco Werner attended the autograph session on Audi's behalf.

As one of two prize winners Romain Dumas was presented with a new award uniting two events. For the first time in 2009 the ACO and ADAC awarded a prize to a German and French personality for their sterling efforts at both the 24 Hours of Le Mans as well as the 24 Hours Nurburgring. Romain Dumas, who competes at Le Mans for Audi, won the classic in the Eifel for the third time in succession. The second prize winner is the 13-time Le Mans participant and engineer Jurgen Barth who won the long-distance race in 1977.

Audi handed over a new highlight to the automobile museum at Le Mans for its comprehensive historical collection: An Audi R10 TDI. The first diesel powered car to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans has its own place in the Museum on the Sarthe since Thursday.

The Audi R15 TDI was presented with an international award before starting the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The American TV channel SPEED and the specialist journal Racecar Engineering declared the second generation diesel sportscar as the most technologically advanced race car at Le Mans. The revolutionary aerodynamics and the commitment to progressive development compared to the evolution of other competitors brought the LMP1 prototype the prize.

Officials, volunteers and rescue workers at the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year once again travel under the sign of the four rings. Audi provided 24 "Official Cars" for operational purposes -- the Safety Car, Race Control, Medical Car, Fire Safety, Track and Extrication. The models ranged from the Audi TT Coupe to the Audi S6 Avant, Audi RS 6, Audi Q5, Audi Q7 to the Audi R8. Furthermore, the two top models of each respective product line -- the Audi R8 V10 and TT RS -- are available exclusively for the race as extra Safety Cars.

Two former Audi Le Mans winners, who recently competed in the 24-hour race around the Nurburgring for Audi teams, use their motorsport expertise as television commentators this year. Frank Biela makes his debut as commentator for the German language Eurosport programs, Emanuele Pirro commentates for the actual race in his mother tongue for Eurosport Italy, and in French for Eurosport France for the historical race held on Saturday morning. Former Le Mans winner Hans-Joachim Stuck, today Motorsport Representative for the Volkswagen Group, was also busy at Le Mans as TV commentator.

Oliver Jarvis, who represents the Audi colors in the DTM, made a private visit to the 24 Hours of Le Mans to get to know the endurance racing scene a little better.

German Ski-Slalom World Champion Maria Riesch numbered among the many celebrities on the AUDI AG guest list. Candy Dulfer & Band and DJ Gandi provided the background music in the Audi Racing Arena. Nick Mason hung around at Le Mans as an Audi UK guest. The motorsport enthusiast and drummer of rock group Pink Floyd will drive an Auto Union race car in three weeks between 3 and 5 July at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. His love of motorsport continues in the family: Holly, the rock musician's daughter, contested the historical legends race at Le Mans on the Sarthe on Saturday. This year she will marry racing driver Marino Franchitti.

Claudia, the wife of Audi factory driver Lucas Luhr, had originally planned to travel to Le Mans. However, a sudden and special "addition to the family" complicated matters: At the request of their children the family has recently grown through the addition of a ten-week old Labrador crossbreed. Even though he is only four years old the couple's son Gianluca proved his reputation as family jester: The puppy was aptly named as "Rocky", the nickname of Lucas Luhr's team mate Mike Rockenfeller.

Allan McNish saw an Audi R10 TDI win immediately before starting the 24-hour race. At Silverstone in the week before Le Mans the Scot saw how junior high-school students representing Dalbeattie High School won the British Championship for radio-controlled model cars..

-credit: audi

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Series Le Mans
Drivers Tom Kristensen , Allan McNish , Frank Biela , Hans-Joachim Stuck , Lucas Luhr , Timo Bernhard , Marino Franchitti , Marco Werner , Romain Dumas , Nick Mason , Oliver Jarvis , Jürgen Barth , Reinhold Joest , Dindo Capello