IT’S AUDI AT LE MANS—AGAIN
This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Sun, Jun 12, 2011
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
GALLERY—“Darth Vader, your car just won the 24 Hours of Le Mans.” With its two other cars crashing early in the race, Audi holds off a pack of Peugeots to win the crown jewel of motorsports. They did it with the new diesel-powered, ultra-lightweight R18 TDI, the closest thing to Darth Vader on four wheels. At one of the most dramatic 24-hour races in Le Mans history, 250,000 spectators at the race track and millions in front of their TV sets watched as Marcel Fässler (Switzerland), André Lotterer (Germany) and Benoît Tréluyer (France) clinch the 2011 Le Mans endurance race. It’s the 10th victory for Audi, surpassing Ferrari to become the winningest car maker of the race short of Porsche (16 wins). After Audi lost two of its R18 TDI cars in the first third of the race due to accidents, its hopes were pinned on Car No. 2, which had earlier secured the pole position in qualifying. For 16 hours, Fässler, Lotterer and Tréluyer battle three factory-fielded Peugeot cars which were more than happy to keep Audi from taking another victory.
By Sunday morning, June 12, 2011, the one Audi and three Peugeots were still within just a few seconds of each other at the front of the field. “The lead kept changing, also on account of the different strategies,” said Technical Director of Audi Sport Team Joest, Ralf Jüttner. “Fässler, Lotterer and Tréluyer continually brought the performance advantage of their diesel sports car to bear which in the first year of the engine downsizing was clearly the fastest car in the field at Le Mans.” "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.” "Audi ultra technology has passed an extreme acid test this weekend,” said Head of Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich after the car had crossed the finish line. "If you pursue new paths this always involves a risk. Particularly due to the two extremely serious accidents this has been the most difficult Le Mans race for us in an emotional sense so far. That our team managed to keep the strong competition at bay for 16 hours with just one car is almost unbelievable. Everyone at Audi can be proud of this triumph. However, the news that Allan (McNish) and Mike (Rockenfeller) came out of these extremely heavy accidents so well is at least as important as that of the tenth Audi victory.”