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Audi Clinches 10th Triumph at the 24 Hours Le Mans

With 250,000 spectators at the track and millions glued to their TV sets watching the 79th edition of the world’s most famous endurance challenge, Audi prevails as the winner in one of the most thrilling and dramatic races in history. The world watched in awe as Marcel Fassler (Switzerland), Andre Lotterer (Germany) and Benoit Treluyer (France), in the innovative Audi R18 TDI, clinched the 10th Le Mans victory for Audi.

Fans were on edge as the race was filled with suspense and drama. As Audi had lost two of its Audi R18 TDI cars as early as in the first third of the race due to accidents, all hopes were pinned on car number “2” that had secured the pole position in qualifying for Audi. For 16 hours, Fassler, Lotterer, and Treluyer were on their own in a battle against three factory-fielded Peugeots that left no stone unturned to keep Audi from taking victory.

On Sunday morning, four of the fastest vehicles were still within seconds of each other and the lead kept changing. The reliability of the new Audi R18 TDI was impressive as it did not need to come in for a single unschedule pit stops. The only problem that the team had to deal with was with the fuel tank. The full 65-liter capacity could not be used which meant that Lotterer had to achieve a sufficient lead for an additional refueling pit stop in the final phase – in extremely difficult conditions in drizzling rain at times which made the track extremely slippery.

As expected, Lotterer managed to deliver and after the final stop, the German started his last stint with a seven-second advantage over the second-place Peugeot. Audi “2” completed 355 laps in 24 hours, leading the Peugeot No. 9 driven by Simon Pagenaud, Pedro Lamy, and Sebastian Bourdais by 13.854 seconds. “It’s absolutely fantastic to win like this,” Treluyer said. “You need good opponents to have a great victory. With Peugeot, we had rivals who were really strong.” Audi took the top three spots last year with its R15 model, while no Peugeot was able to finish the race. The German manufacturer has enjoyed a successful transition at Le Mans with its new R18 model. “Last year, we had the same problems with the car in terms of speed,” Treluyer told France 2 television. “We have a reliable car … but we lacked a bit of speed. The goal this year was to get a faster car without losing reliability. And we made it.”

“It was a fantastic triumph of Audi ultra-lightweight technology in extreme conditions,” commented Rupert Stadler, Chairman of the Management Board of AUDI AG, who had watched the captivating race himself in the pits. “After we celebrated a record victory last year primarily thanks to reliability and efficiency, we not only had the most reliable but also the quickest car this year.” Management Board Member for Development Michael Dick said, “The team as well as the entire Audi squad did a first-class job that deserves great respect. This tenth Le Mans success of our brand was no doubt the one that required the toughest battle – which perhaps also made it the most valuable one. At the same time, albeit involuntarily, we proved that our engineers design very safe cars.”

If you click on the picture above you can get a larger version that you can use on your computer curtsey of Audi Racing.

Jun 29th, 2011