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Audi pushes Peugeot over the edge at Le Mans

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Audi pushes Peugeot over the edge at Le Mans
Jun 14, 2010, 7:17 AM

By involuntarily giving Peugeot a shot for the second position, Audi has pushed the final Team Peugeot Total car over the edge. While driving on the limit to carry in the No. 8 Audi, Alexander Wurz asked too much of his car and blew his ...

By involuntarily giving Peugeot a shot for the second position, Audi has pushed the final Team Peugeot Total car over the edge. While driving on the limit to carry in the No. 8 Audi, Alexander Wurz asked too much of his car and blew his engine.

#9 Audi Sport North America Audi R15: Mike Rockenfeller, Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.

Forty minutes before the engine failure, Andre Lotterer lost touch with the leading No. 9 Audi when he locked his tires in the Indianapolis corner and went straight into the tire wall. After having visited the pit for a new nose, tires and fuel, the German came only four seconds in front of the No. 1 Peugeot of Wurz back on track.

Very quickly an exciting fight developed, with both cars extremely close to each other. It took Wurz a lap and a half before the former Formula 1 driver was able to pass the Audi driver, after which the Peugeot immediately returned to the pit for fuel and tires.

After his pitstop, Wurz only had one goal -- to close the gap with the No. 8 Audi as fast as possible. With quick lap times, the Peugeot came soon closer to the Audi, until all of a sudden a puff of smoke came out of the right rear of the Peugeot. Soon the car would lose a lot of speed. Wurz barely made it to the pit, where all the emotional Peugeot team could do wah push the oil-leaking car back into the pitbox.

"This can be a very cruel race," Team Peugeot Total boss Hugues de Chaunac said. "You always have to wait until the end. Of course nobody imagined when we were leading the race last night with two cars, the next day we would have nothing. The Peugeot team has worked very hard and we should try to be stronger next year. I'd like to say to Lo?c Duval -- Please do everything you can to get at least one Peugeot on the podium!"

In the final part of the race also one Audi could be parked behind the wall, though it wasn't one of the Audi works teams, but the Kolles customer Audi team. Half an hour after Christian Bakkerud had spun his car into the Indianapolis corner gravel trap, Oliver Jarvis had to park the No. 15 with a broken gearbox.

While the Highcroft team expected earlier to be able to complete the race, even though the car was suffering cooling problems, the team hasn't been seen on track. Highcroft drove most of the race in LM P2 class' second position.

"I'm really disappointed to end the day like this," Marino Franchitti said. "We'll probably go out before the end, but we won't be able to do a lot of laps. This was our first Le Mans for Highcroft and we've done a great job, this has been a great education for the team. The biggest disappointment is just that we're taken out by something we can't control."

After a near to flawless race, Strakka Racing is still leading the P2 class, while the No. 50 Labre Competition Salaan has a huge lead in GT 1. The fight for the GT2 also seems to be over with the Felbermayr Porsche having a 3-lap gap with the second running Hankook Team Farnbacher Ferrari.

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