Audi teams in third and fourth position after seven hours at Le Mans LE MANS, France (June 14, 2003) -- At the beginning of the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, the Audi customer teams delivered an exciting fight against the two Bentley factory cars.
Audi teams in third and fourth position after seven hours at Le Mans
LE MANS, France (June 14, 2003) -- At the beginning of the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, the Audi customer teams delivered an exciting fight against the two Bentley factory cars. After seven hours of racing, the Audi R8 of Audi Sport Japan Team Goh and Team ADT Champion Racing are running in third and fourth positions, only a short distance behind the Bentley cars.
During the first hours of the French endurance classic, the two Audi R8 sportscars were running without a single problem. Thanks to the low fuel consumption of the Audi FSI engine, JJ Lehto took over the lead twice during the opening two hours. But due to a puncture the Audi R8 of Team ADT Champion Racing dropped back to fourth position just after 6:00 pm European Standard Time. "At the exit of the second chicane I had to run around a GTS car and damaged my right rear tire," said Lehto.
At 9:00 pm, the best Audi was the R8 of Audi Sport Japan Team Goh with Seiji Ara, Jan Magnussen and Marco Werner. Marco Werner thrilled the spectators with a fascinating fight with the second placed Bentley.
For Audi Sport UK, the race ended just before two hours of racing when Frank Biela wanted to enter the pitlane for his second regular pitstop but another competitor blocked his way. Biela, who had won Le Mans for three successive years, was able to avoid a collision but missed the pit entrance. Although Frank reduced his speed to conserve fuel, the Audi R8 retired about two miles before the pits near the Arnage curve.
"I'm just so upset for the team," declared a distraught Biela. "The reserve light came on and the team told me to pit the next lap. But coming out of the Porsche Corners, a Panoz was in front of me and also through the fast Esses. I was trying to keep my momentum and attempted to pass him on the left side but I was surprised by his acceleration and found myself blocked as the Panoz was beside me and I couldn't turn across to the pit-lane which meant I had to start another lap. I knew it would be almost impossible to get around and the car started 'coughing'. I had to park it and then I tried to get it back to the pits using the starter but it was impossible. I'm devastated."
On hand this weekend to offer his support to the Audi 'privateer' teams is Len Hunt, President of Audi of America. "I'm so proud of our three Audi teams this year. All three have been running really strong and consistent with the Bentley cars. It's such a shame about Frank Biela and the Audi Sport UK team. Frank has done so much for Audi and the UK team worked so hard to get here. It's just so unfortunate."
In North America, race fans will be able to watch 17 hours of live coverage of the event on SPEED Channel, beginning at 9 a.m. (EDT) on Saturday. Live coverage of the entire race can be heard online at www.radiolemans.com.