Ingolstadt/Le Mans -- At one of the most exciting and fastest races in Le Mans history, AUDI AG clinched another triumph at what is arguably the world's toughest motor race.
For Audi, this marked the eighth Le Mans triumph in just ten races. This puts Audi in third place -- just one victory short of Ferrari -- on the perpetual list of winners of the endurance classic which has been staged since 1923.
In its third running at Le Mans, the Audi R10 TDI again remained unbeaten. Audi continues to be the only manufacturer to have won the 24 Hours of Le Mans with a diesel-powered vehicle.
Le Mans 2008 marked the Audi R10 TDI's 29th race and the 16th victory of AUDI AG's diesel-powered sportscar.
In 2008, the victorious Audi R10 TDI ran with second-generation bio fuel for the first time: In addition to the well-known GTL components, a small amount of BTL (Biomass-to-Liquids) was added to the Shell V-Power Diesel fuel.
5,192.649 kilometres (381 laps) were completed by Dindo Capello, Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen in the victorious Audi R10 TDI (chassis number 204) in the race, setting a new record for the current circuit version.
With an average speed of 216.300 kph the 76th running of the 24 Hour of Le Mans was the fifth-quickest in the event's history and the fastest since the Hunaudières straight was slowed by adding two chicanes in 1990.
The fastest race lap of the Audi R10 TDI was set by Alexandre Premat on Saturday afternoon on lap 75 with a time of 3m 23.939s (average: 240.584 kph), which was 3.237 seconds less than Allan McNish's fastest lap from last year.
The fastest lap an Audi R10 TDI has ever achieved at Le Mans so far was driven by Allan McNish in Saturday morning's warm-up at 3m 23.319s (average: 241.317 kph).
Only for the fifth time in the Le Mans 24 Hours' total history, and for the first time in 20 years, a vehicle marked as car #2 won the event.
During the race, four different cars were running at the front, with the lead changing 25 times altogether. The Audi R10 TDI that ultimately won the race led the field for 178 of the 381 laps -- more than any other car.
Of the 55 vehicles that had started from the grid, 19 retired. Audi Sport Team Joest finished the race with all three Audi R10 TDI cars.
The victorious Audi R10 TDI spent just 31 minutes and 56 seconds in the pits. The vehicle pitted a total of 32 times -- thanks to the fuel-efficient TDI engine, the number of pit stops was four lower than that of the second-placed Peugeot -- and not a single one was an unscheduled stop. 20 times the tyres were changed. The winning car did not encounter a single technical problem.
One tank of Shell V-Power Diesel took the Audi drivers over a distance of twelve laps -- one more than their rivals from the Peugeot camp. On average, the engine's fuel consumption was just 45.56 litres per 100 kilometres.
There were only eight driver changes with the winning car. The longest stint was driven by Allan McNish: from 6:11 to 9:31 a.m., the Scotsman was at the wheel of the Audi R10 TDI for a solid 3 hours and 20 minutes.
Tom Kristensen celebrated his eighth victory at Le Mans, thus extending his previous record. For Allan McNish, this was the second Le Mans triumph after 1998 and the first with Audi. Dindo Capello won for the third time. For the trio, this marked the first joint success achieved in their third joint race.
On race day, the average age of the victorious drivers' squad was 40.3 years. Dindo Capello celebrated his 44th birthday on the Tuesday following the Le Mans victory. Le Mans record winner Tom Kristensen turns 41 on 7 July, Allan McNish 39 in December.
In summary, this was the 26th Le Mans appearance of a German car manufacturer, the 50th of an open cockpit sportscar and the 17th for Michelin, Audi's tyre partner, who has not been beaten at Le Mans since 1998.
For the team around Reinhold Joest, this was the tenth triumph at Le Mans, for Audi Sport Team Joest, the sixth.
Audi Technology was victorious at Le Mans for the ninth consecutive time. Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich was responsible for all nine victories.