AUDI ACHIEVES RECORD LE MANS VICTORY
For the ninth time, Audi has won the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans and thus equaled Ferrari's position in the roll of honor; only Porsche has more victories. At the 78th edition of the race, reliability was the decisive factor. The three Audi R15 TDI cars of Audi Sport Team Joest ran without technical problems over the entire distance and occupied the top three places following the fastest Le Mans race of all time. After 2000, 2002 and 2004, Audi achieved a one-two-three triumph at Le Mans for the fourth time.
"Everyone at Audi can be proud of this historic exploit. Reliability, efficiency and sustainability are particularly important for car manufacturers today. And these are exactly the areas in which we have demonstrated our expertize this weekend," commented Audi Chairman Rupert Stadler. "It was one of the most thrilling races in Le Mans history, a do-or-die battle. I express my thanks and great respect to the entire squad. They have performed an incredible and flawless feat of energy. Peugeot was a formidable rival who required us to give everything. We express our respect to the French squad for this."
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich, Head of Audi Motorsport said: "After taking third place last year, it was our declared aim to bring the Le Mans trophy back to Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm, and we managed this in an impressive way. I'm incredibly proud of this squad and sincerely thank everyone who has contributed to this achievement."
Audi's ninth win at Le Mans was also made possible by a technology which Audi Sport developed during the past three years: the V10 TDI engine of the Audi R15 TDI with approximately 590hp has a Variable Turbine Geometry (VTG) turbocharger. These are standard on Audi TDI production engines. Their use at Le Mans helps Audi engineers continue to develop the technology for small, highly-efficient turbo engines in the future. "At Le Mans we're dealing with temperatures above 1000?C, which have not been encountered on production engines so far," explained Ulrich Baretzky, Head of Engine Development at Audi Sport. "As a result of downsizing, production development will encounter similar temperature ranges. This makes VTG another good example of how the technology transfer between motorsport and production works at Audi."
In 2010 the demands on diesel engines were particularly high due to the restrictions imposed by the regulations. "Squeezing more output from the engines without sacrificing reliability posed a great challenge, which our team mastered in an outstanding manner," said Ullrich after the race. "We did not use the full potential of the V10 TDI engine this year in order to be on the safe side. That's why it was clear to us even before the race that we wouldn't have the fastest car - but a very reliable and efficient one. The development objective of the R15 plus was 20 percent higher efficiency. We managed to achieve this. We've been working very hard for this over the past few months. This makes this success even more rewarding."
The victorious Audi R15 TDI with Timo Bernhard (Germany), Romain Dumas (France) and Mike Rockenfeller (Germany) completed a total of 397 laps in the 24 hours. With the covered distance of 5410km, the trio broke the 1971 record set by Dr Helmut Marko and Gijs van Lennep in the Porsche 917 that was considered unbeatable because the Hunaudieres straight at that time had no chicanes - another demonstration of the performance capabilities of Audi TDI technology.
Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and Mike Rockenfeller drove a flawless race on their way to their first Le Mans victory and the new record. Except for a slow puncture shortly before the end of the race, and a right-hand mirror that came off, the race went without the slightest problems for the winners.
Second place was taken by Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer. The front bodywork on their R15 TDI had to be changed twice after contact with the track barriers.
The 2008 winners, Dindo Capello, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish, were struck by major misfortune. Le Mans record winner Tom Kristensen had to evade a GT2 vehicle with a puncture on Saturday night and slid backwards into the track barrier at the Porsche corners. However, they got back into the lead group and were rewarded with a podium result.