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Audi Female Race Engineer Makes Le Mans History - Web Exclusive

Leena Gade became the first female race engineer to win the world famous Le Mans 24 Hour race last weekend, which earned Audi its tenth victory in the endurance classic.

Jun 15, 2011

Gade, aged 35, from Harrow in great Britain, is a No.1 race engineer for the “factory” Audi Sport team. Her car, the Audi R18 TDI driven by Benoît Treluyer (F), Marcel Fässler (CH) and André Lotterer (D), won the 79th running of the legendary race.

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Leena “masterminded” the win from the pitwall throughout the race, where Audi raced its latest single-turbo diesel V6 featuring the company’s ultra-lightweight technology at Le Mans.

“I still can’t believe what happened and I don’t think it will sink in for a few weeks,” remarked the former University of Manchester student. “Our Audi R18 TDI started from pole-position, set the fastest race lap and did not have any major problems in what was only this car’s second race. We’d prepared properly, which is what Audi and the Joest team do. We had to race hard throughout the entire 24 hours. It was quite amazing.”

Audi entered three turbo diesel-engined R18 TDI sportscars at Le Mans. This year’s winning Audi clocked up over 3000-miles, having made pit-stops for only fuel, tires and driver changes. Britain’s former double Le Mans winner Allan McNish and Mike Rockenfeller (D) sustained no injuries in extremely severe accidents in the first third of the race.

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Gade continued: “I’m responsible for the final decisions on the racecar. If a part on the car moves, changes temperature or pressure, I’m logging it. A snapshot of our computer screens could show hundreds of channels at one time. “The collected information is then used by me to give instructions over the radio to the driver to help him maintain tires or maximize the engine performancem for example.

“In addition to looking after all functions of the car, we have to manage the tire allocation, fuel stops and driver time in the car while keeping an eye on the weather. This information is used to make strategic decisions on when to pit for fuel and which tire to use.”

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