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Le Mans: Audi Takes Another Win

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LE MANS: Audi Takes Another Win

Written by: RACER &

RACER Magazine

Audi's Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish and Rinaldo Capello beat the odds to score a breathtaking victory with their R10 after an epic battle with arch-rival Peugeot.

Kristensen eventually crossed the line to score a record-extending eighth win in the French classic, but it was not certain until the final few laps of a dramatic final hour.

The Dane, under immense pressure to protect a cushion of two minutes from Nicolas Minassian's charging Peugeot, didn't put a wheel wrong despite a late burst of rain that rendered the circuit soaking wet.

And while Kristensen, who switched to intermediate tires at the turn of the hour, steadily pushed on without mistake, Minassian charged on with a risky slick-shod strategy that was aimed at taking advantage of dry sections of the eight-mile circuit. At times the Frenchman was eight seconds faster than his rival over a single lap. But the knife-edge nature of the conditions also saw him spin violently at the Dunlop chicane, and then miss the first chicane on the Mulsanne altogether.

In the end, events earlier in the race left the Frenchman with simply too much to do as put in a flat-out triple stint to the end of the race.

In fact in the final laps of the race, Minassian appeared to be fighting for control of the 908, after suffering from a puncture on his rear left tire.

Meanwhile the No.2 Audi crew did exactly what they set out to do from the beginning of the race, put all the pressure on Peugeot and maximize its strengths.

All three drivers put in stand-out stints through the race, and Kristensen's final one, given the pressure involved was the measure of any seen during the race.

Franck Montagny took third for Peugeot, but two podium spots will be scant consolation for the French manufacturer, which has spared no expense to win this event in front of a 260,000 strong crowd. It almost certainly means they will be back next year.

Lucas Luhr brought the No.3 Audi home fourth after a lengthy late service took it out of the battle for third.

The No.8 Peugeot, without a doubt the fastest car throughout the race, finished fifth in the hands of Alex Wurz, while Frank Biela, who spun at the first chicane in the final hour, was sixth in last year's winning car.

Benoit Treluyer gave Pescarolo the unofficial gasoline-powered class win by proving the most reliable car, finishing five laps ahead of Loic Duval in the last surviving Oreca Courage.

Tomas Enge finished tenth in the Lola Aston Martin, but it was a tale of what might have been for the Prodrive assisted Charouz Racing team. Just imagine what it could have done had Jan Charouz not crashed it in the opening hour?

David Brabham was given the honor of crossing the line for Aston Martin in GT1 as the No.009 car took class victory for the second straight year. Its battle with Corvette had been concluded long before the final hour. But the Australian, who shared his car with former Darren Turner and Antonio Garcia, still had to finish the race in the difficult conditions just like everyone else.

Jan Magnussen led home a Corvette 2-3, while the Heinz-Harald finished fourth in the second Aston Martin.

Mika Salo scored an emotional first Le Mans class victory with the Risi Ferrari squad in GT2.

The team took control of the category from the halfway point, and their last challenger, Virgo Motorsport, dropped out with 90 minutes of the race still to run. Fabio Babini finished second for BMS Scuderia Italia, while Pierre Kaffer was third for Farnbacher.

Former Formula 1 driver Jos Verstappen made the perfect debut at La Sarthe as the Dutch Van Merksteijn Porsche team took a crushing victory in LMP2.

Having spent the first 12 hours battling with the Team Essex Porsche, they pulled away through the night as the Danish car picked up a misfire. It eventually finished eight laps back, and second in class.

Pierre Ragues brought the Team Saulnier Pescarolo home third after a steady, if incident-packed run.

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Congrats to Audi for winning it 5 times in a row & to Tom Kristensen for winning his 8th Le Mans race & driving brilliantly at night when it was p1ssing & overtaking JV! As for Peugeot, hard luck to them, dominated the Audi's when it was dry but as soon as the rain came down, dunno what happened with JV, on top of that all 3 Pugs had problems which also eroded their lead but they're time will eventually come! Well done to the van Merksteijn team & their Porsche RS Spyder for finishing 9th overall in an LMP2!! Pity the Penske Racing Porsche wasn't there as they'd give Audi & Peugeot, something to worry about! Also well done to AM Racing in their sexy Gulf-liveried DBR9 for winning in the GT1 class & finally to Risi Competizione & their Ferrari F430 for winning in the GT2 class & with 2 ex-F1 drivers in it, remember when Gianmaria Bruni was racing with Minardi a few years back? Of course Mika Salo is closely related to Ferrari for being a great driver for them in the past!

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more importantley, the wonderful Darren Turner won the GT1 class again yeeeeeeeeeey :D

Edited by Der Kaiser

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Pitstops is where Peugeot lost a lot.

Many of them were due to find a solution to bad performance during the rain hours. The 908 is faster than Audi but at Le Mans is not enough. Is fantastic to have strong contenders at Le Mans again!

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