When the clock struck 12 today at Le Circuit de La Sarthe, Audi took home a stunning sweep of the podium at this year’s running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. With the Peugeot 908’s showing considerably more pace during qualifying, not even Audi Motorsports boss Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich would have predicted a 1-2-3 finish for their R15 TDI diesel-powered LMP1 machines.
According to Ullrich, “At the beginning it was a little unlucky for us but at the end it all worked fine. It’s a great reward for all the work that everyone [at Audi Motorsports] has done. I think this has to be the hardest Le Mans we’ve ever done.”
Dr. Ullrich was congratulated by his counterpart at Peugeot, Director of Motorsport Olivier Quesnel, straight after the race. Ullrich returned the favor by paying tribute to Audi’s arch rival Peugeot by remarking on the camararderie between the two teams. “In sport when someone wins then someone else loses, but when the loser comes and congratulates the winner it is all very sporting. That is what we did last year and that’s what Peugeot has done this year. It has been a fantastic battle, we’ve invited the Peugeot guys to a party tonight and we hope that they will all come”.
For Audi this is their 9th victory at Le Mans, tying them with Ferrari as the second winningest team in history (Porsche having 16 wins to their name). The winning #9 Audi, driven by Mike Rockenfeller, Romain Dumas and Timo Bernhard, also set a new distance record by completing 397 laps at an average speed of 225.228 km/h.
This was also Michelin’s 19th Le Mans victory and the 27th time the race has been won by a German car.
Results from LMP2, GT1 and GT2 after the jump:
In LMP2 it was the #42 Strakka Racing HPD (Honda Performance Development) ARX.01c machine coming home first, having completed an impressive 367 laps in the process. Second was the #35 Oak Racing Pescarolo on 361 laps and third was the #25 RML Lola coupe on 358 laps. The #42 Strakka Racing team also won the Michelin Green X Challenge (Michelin’s way of taking the lead when it comes to an environmentally respectful approach to motor racing and sets out to promote a balanced performance package that takes fuel consumption, grip and durability into consideration).
Of the eight entries in the GT1 category, it was the venerable #50 Larbre Competition Saleen S7R that came out on top with 331 laps completed. The #72 Chevrolet Corvette of Luc Alphan Adventures was 2nd in class on 327 laps and class pole sitter the #52 Young Driver AMR Aston Martin DBR9 crossed the line 3rd on 311 laps.
In the highly competitive GT2 class, it was the #77 Porsche GT3 RSR of Team Felbermayr Proton taking the win, completing 7 more laps than the winning GT1 car thanks to the efforts of Porsche factory drivers Marc Lieb, Richard Lietz and Wolf Henzler. With a solid 2nd place performance was the Hankook Team Farnbacher Ferrari F430 on 336 laps (5 laps ahead of the GT1 class winner), while 3rd place was claimed by the #97 Porsche GT3 RSR of BMS Scuderia Italia.
Corvette Racing’s bid for their first GT2 win at Le Mans (having achieved six GT1 victories) came to an end this morning at 9:42 a.m. when the #64 car retired with an apparent engine problem. Having led GT2 at the 18 hour mark, a crash resulting in a long repair which effectively ended the #64 car’s chances, while the #63 Corvette retired shortly after 7 a.m. with an engine failure.