Ingolstadt -- On 14/15 June Audi starts for the tenth time in the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans. For AUDI AG it is much more than just claiming a possible eighth overall victory in the French endurance classic: Quite probably the world's hardest...
Ingolstadt -- On 14/15 June Audi starts for the tenth time in the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans. For AUDI AG it is much more than just claiming a possible eighth overall victory in the French endurance classic: Quite probably the world's hardest car race acts as test bench for new technology later used in street cars.
The inventor of TDI engines is currently forcing the development of future generation diesel engines with help from the Audi R10 TDI. At Le Mans Audi has proven that sporting dynamic and efficiency are not necessarily contradictory. The TDI version of the TT and TT Roadster are a logical step from the Le Mans programme. The 500 hp Audi R8 TDI Le Mans is the world's first Super Sportscar with TDI Power.
Audi lines-up at Le Mans this year for the third time with the R10 TDI which was unveiled at the end of 2005, and scooped the headlines worldwide. The brand with the four rings wrote an important chapter in motorsport history with the first win for a diesel car in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Audi repeated the triumph in 2007. Therefore, on 14/15 June 2008 Audi Sport Team Joest has the chance to do the hat trick -- a feat that was already successfully accomplished with the preceding Audi R8 model in the years 2000, 2001 and 2002.
Audi relies on efficiency and reliability for its tenth appearance in Le Mans. The Audi R10 TDI, now in its third year of service, is no longer the fastest prototype on the grid -- at least over a single lap. However, over the distance Audi Sport Team Joest has a good chance of winning because in Le Mans it's all about losing as little time as possible in the pits. That the more than 650 hp V12 TDI engine is particularly efficient and economical is well-known. The same goes for the reliability of the R10 TDI: A 30-hour endurance test in April ran without problems. In addition, the car is designed so that it can be repaired in the shortest possible time after collisions or accidents.
Team and drivers are tried and trusted: With nine victories to date, the team around Reinhold Joest is the most successful Le Mans team ever. The driver squads are the same as last year and can claim a total of 23 Le Mans victories.
Audi has already won the 24 Hours of Le Mans seven times. If you include the win in 2003 scored by the Bentley Speed 8, which was fitted with an Audi Sport developed TFSI engine, then Audi Technology is unbeaten at Le Mans since 2000. The team under Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich will leave no stone unturned to ensure this remains so.
Quotes before the 24 Hours of Le Mans
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "We have seen from the results in both the LMS and ALMS that we can expect one of the most exciting Le Mans race in 2008. The competition is very strong and is preparing itself meticulously for this 24-hour race. This is a huge challenge for us. The main aim is to win the race again. It will probably be the toughest Le Mans race in which we have competed up to now. However, the bigger the challenge the greater the motivation."
Frank Biela (Audi R10 TDI #1): "I'm looking with a positive and optimistic frame of mind towards the race. We are all motivated. It will definitely be the most difficult Le Mans race that we've ever had. The LMS has shown just how strong Peugeot can be. We expect things to be similar at Le Mans. However, we have some advantages in the pit-stop and strategy areas. Everything was perfect in these particular areas last year. Our car has stamina which is something that not every opponent can claim. It'll be exciting and we are looking forward to it."
Emanuele Pirro (Audi R10 TDI #1): "Le Mans is the highlight of the season, just like the Olympic Games. We focus our concentration throughout the season on this one race -- a race in which you don't get a second chance. I'm relaxed as we always arrive at Le Mans in top form. I'm also optimistic because we were always very good in the previous years and Audi has improved again since last year. We drive for Audi which is why everything points towards another good result. It is, however, always a difficult race with unpredictable aspects and many question marks."
Marco Werner (Audi R10 TDI #1): "It will be a very tough race -- one of the hardest. When you take the LMS races into consideration we have, in Peugeot, a very strong opponent. However, Audi Sport has worked hard and will give everything possible. Even though it'll be difficult the target is obviously to win Le Mans again. If we manage this, in many ways we'll have written a historical chapter. Maybe people will still be talking about it in 20, 25 or even 50 years time -- like today with the big battles from the seventies."
Dindo Capello (Audi R10 TDI #2): "Just like every year Le Mans is THE race for us. It is one of those competitions that numbers among the two or three most important races in the world. We work towards this. A huge amount of good work was carried out over the winter because we know that the competition gets harder and harder. We have to be even more focussed. It's something very special to be able to start in this unique race. It goes without saying that we want to continue the winning streak that Audi started in 2000."
Tom Kristensen (Audi R10 TDI #2): "It's the dream of every driver to be a part of this unique event and to bring home a good result. The race can be compared with the Grand Prix in Monaco or the Indy 500 -- every driver wants to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans once. This is also the case for the fans that are a part of the legend of this race. More than a quarter-of-a-million people will come again in 2008. Almost half of my fellow countrymen travel to France to this incredible race festival ... It is not only a race but a festival. Some sleep in a beautiful Château, some in normal hotel rooms, and then there are others in tents and caravans. A great mix! They all come and spend many days here to enjoy the unique atmosphere. Nobody can escape it. Everybody concentrates when it starts on Saturday at 3.00 p.m. We'll achieve an average lap speed of more than 215 kph with the LM P1 cars and hopefully make efficient and good pit stops. I wish every competitor luck and wish the fans all the best for this fascinating running of Le Mans whether they are at the track or at home in front of the television."
Allan McNish (Audi R10 TDI #2): "The anticipation climbs every time Le Mans appears on the horizon. Throughout the year we put an enormous amount of effort into preparing for a single race. It is expectation combined with a little nervousness: You want it to finally get going but you also want to be competitive. We were always competitive with Audi. In my opinion we'll probably see one of the best races since ten years thanks to the fight with Peugeot, but also with Lola, Aston Martin, Pescarolo and Oreca in LM P1. Porsche and Zytek are also in the thick of the LM P2 action, as well as Aston Martin against Corvette and Ferrari versus Porsche in the GT classes. It looks as if there'll be fantastic fights across the board. As far as our team is concerned, Dindo, Tom and I want revenge for last year!"
Lucas Luhr (Audi R10 TDI #3): "I'm absolutely delighted to be able to be here, it's a great privilege to be able to compete for overall honours in Le Mans for a manufacturer such as Audi. We'll try to stay with the leading group from the very beginning and do a good job. It's usually the case that you only really know where you are when the sun rises on Sunday."
Alexandre Premat (Audi R10 TDI #3): "I'm obviously very happy to be returning to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It's something very special for my fellow countrymen because the race is very prestigious. I really like the circuit. My team is also functioning exceptionally well. Mike, Lucas and I have collected a lot of experience in the LMS and also the ALMS. The foundations for a good result and making the finish are in place. We could have easily made the podium in my first Le Mans start with Audi."
Mike Rockenfeller (Audi R10 TDI #3): "I'm absolutely delighted to be here again and to have received a second chance from Audi. It will certainly be difficult against Peugeot. With Audi Sport Team Joest we race in the Le Mans Series and know what to expect. However, we are well equipped and will try everything to be stronger than last year. My goal is to make no mistakes in the race and hopefully to achieve a good result at the flag."
Ralf Juttner (Technical Director Audi Sport Team Joest): "Le Mans will certainly be a very, very exciting race. Many expect it to be one of the most exciting of the decade. I'm afraid that these people will be right. The main opponent is Peugeot, but there are also other very quick cars. We've already had the pleasure of competing against Peugeot in the LMS, and we know that this opponent is very fast. However, we've seen in the somewhat shorter LMS races that we were always in-with-a-shout at the end with our marginally slower cars. On this track we have to stay concentrated during the race. If so, then we also have a good chance of winning the race. It is exactly this that is our goal, nothing else."
TV broadcast times
Saturday, 14 June
14:30 -- 15:45 Eurosport
15:45 -- 18:15 Eurosport 2
18:15 -- 20:00 Eurosport
20:00 -- 22:00 Eurosport 2
22:00 -- 22:30 Eurosport
22:30 -- 01:45 Eurosport 2
Sunday, 15 June
01:45 -- 08:45 Eurosport
08:45 -- 11:00 Eurosport 2
11:00 -- 12:00 Eurosport
12:00 -- 14:00 Eurosport 2
14:00 -- 15:15 Eurosport