• Sep 16, 2008
Click above for a high-res gallery of the Audi R10 in action

If Audi was a greater beneficiary of the "win on Sunday, sell on Monday" adage, they would have trounced Mercedes and BMW in sales long ago. The house of the four rings took the 24 Hours of Le Mans, then they claimed the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), and now Audi extends its arms once again to grab the European Le Mans Series championship (LMS) trophy.

In fact, by finishing first and fourth at Silverstone with two Audi R10s, Audi takes the driver's title (Alex Prémat and Mike Rockenfeller), the manufacturer's title, and the team title. It's only real competition was Peugeot, which walks away empty handed even though it won four of the five LMS races, had two cars on the podium at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and had pole position for every race. Next year's battle for Franco-German supremacy should be even better. Make the jump for Audi's press release.



PRESS RELEASE

Audi wins Le Mans Series
  • First win for the Audi R10 TDI in the LMS
  • Capello/McNish triumph at Silverstone
  • Champion's titles for Audi and Prémat/Rockenfeller
Ingolstadt/Silverstone – After the triumph at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the early title win in the American Le Mans Series, AUDI AG performed another feat with the Audi R10 TDI diesel sportscar: At the 1000-kilometre race at Silverstone (Great Britain), Audi Sport Team Joest – clinching victory as well as fourth place – secured also the champion's title in the European Le Mans Series (LMS).

In front of a record turnout of 53,000 spectators (throughout the weekend) Dindo Capello (Italy) and Allan McNish (Scotland) at the season's finalé scored the first victory of the Audi R10 TDI, which is powered by over 650 hp, in the Le Mans Series. For Alexandre Prémat (France) and Mike Rockenfeller (Germany) a fourth place at Silverstone was sufficient to win the drivers' title in the LM P1 class. The LMS manufacturers' and team titles went to Audi as well.

From the outset, the two Audi R10 TDI cars of Audi Sport Team Joest were able to keep the pace of the two Peugeot 908s in the race and put the French diesel sportscars under massive pressure. As a result, Peugeot driver Nicolas Minassian in a duel with Allan McNish spun as early as in the first turn and later retired due to an accident.

After the premature end of the race for their only remaining rivals in the fight for the drivers' title, Alexandre Prémat and Mike Rockenfeller would have merely needed a sixth-place finish to win the title. The two youngsters were leading the race most of the time, did not take any unnecessary risks and were heading for the title win when they were forced to make an unscheduled pit stop 20 minutes before race end due to a defect on the right rear suspension. Thanks to a quick repair the car bearing number 2 in the race lost only four laps.

A slight contact and a stop-and-go penalty due to overtaking under a yellow flag caused some additional drama on the final laps. In the end, Prémat/Rockenfeller crossed the finish line in fourth place, though, and thus secured the champion's title.

Another nerve-racking experience was the victory drive of Dindo Capello and Allan McNish. Due to a quicker pit stop Audi Sport Team Joest in the second hour of the race managed moving their R10 TDI past the previously leading Peugeot. When Peugeot driver Stéphane Sarrazin after a safety car period tried overtaking Capello on the outside in turn 1, he turned in too early and collided with the Audi. Capello together with Sarrazin spun off the track, losing three laps in the gravel trap and due to a cut tyre.

From 17th place, Capello and McNish managed to make up ground again with consistently fast lap times, a good strategy and perfect pit stops to take the lead again 20 minutes before race end. This locked in the first victory of the Audi R10 TDI in the LMS as well as Audi's title win in the manufacturers' classification.

Quotes after the race at Silverstone

Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "That was a placatory end of a difficult championship. We're proud to have won the Le Mans Series straight in our first year against such strong rivals. Maybe we dreamt that we'd be going home from here with race victory and the championship title but it was hard work. The whole team did a great job. The pit stops and the strategy were very good and the boys drove a constantly fast pace. We were at the level of our strongest rivals who took themselves out of the race due to accidents, and we made the maximum of the situation. Well done to the whole squad!"

Dindo Capello (Audi R10 TDI #1): "First of all, congratulations to our team-mates Alex (Prémat) and 'Rocky' on their well-deserved title win. For Allan (McNish) and me it was a nice end of the Le Mans Series. We were fast at the first four races as well but always had some kind of problems. After the accident with Stéphane Sarrazin, in which I feel – 101 per cent – that I was not at fault, I thought that this race was over for us as well. But we never gave up. Seasoned drivers, an experienced team and a great car make for a good combination to win a race which – just like Le Mans – seemed to have been lost already on paper. This race showed that people with a lot of will power and commitment can make the seemingly impossible possible. That's why Allan and I are proud to be part of this fantastic team. Audi won Le Mans, the ALMS and the LMS. Now I'm firmly keeping my fingers crossed for Audi to win the DTM title as well."

Allan McNish (Audi R10 TDI #1): "I believe that Dindo (Capello) and I deserve this victory, and so does everyone in the team – both the exploit at the finale and the champion's title. We fought hard this year. For Dindo and me things weren't always going as well as they should have. We had incidents when we were in the position to win races. I think 24 hours ago nobody would have expected Audi to win the race and the manufacturer's title and 'Rocky' and Alex (Prémat) the drivers' title. Audi has had a clean sweep in sportscar racing this season: Le Mans, the American Le Mans Series and the now the Le Mans Series. A great year for Audi Sport."

Alexandre Prémat (Audi R10 TDI #2): "It's simply fantastic for everyone in the team and of course for 'Rocky' and I. I think we did a good job all weekend as well as throughout the year. The race was tough. Up to the final lap we were on edge because 20 minutes before the end of the race we had a damaged suspension. That was close! Fortunately, the mechanics did a great job yet again. Thank you, Audi. Thank you, Team Joest. Thank you also to Allan (McNish) and Dindo (Capello) from whom we were able to learn a lot this year."

Mike Rockenfeller (Audi R10 TDI #2): "I always believed that we could make it – and now it's come true. In a championship you've got to consistently score good points and we did that at the first four races. And today we scored the necessary points as well. Of course we'd have liked to win this race. But I'm extremely happy that our 'sister car' clinched this exploit here for Audi. Allan (McNish) and Dindo (Capello) had a lot of misfortune this year. Audi won the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the last race of the LMS and the championship – it's hard to top that. For Alex and me it was very important to clinch this title."

Ralf Jüttner (Technical Director Audi Sport Team Joest): "That was a strange and difficult race. Previous races already showed that Peugeot tends to make mistakes when they're under pressure. In my opinion, the Peugeot drivers clearly made mistakes here. Perhaps they got a little nervous because they didn't manage to drive away from us. After number 7 was out of the race, Alex (Prémat) and 'Rocky' were able to drive very cautiously. Fortunately, we managed to eliminate the technical problem quickly. In the end, they only missed third place by a few seconds. But that doesn't matter: they're the champions and Allan (McNish) and Dindo (Capello) have won the race. The two pushed like hell and deserve this win. A fantastic result for Audi!"

The results at Silverstone

1 Capello/McNish (Audi R10 TDI) 195 laps in 5h 40m24.862s
2 Mücke/Charouz (Lola-Aston-Martin) - 2 laps
3 Dumas/Boullion (Pescarolo-Judd) - 4 laps
4 Prémat/Rockenfeller (Audi R10 TDI) - 4 laps
5 van Merksteijn/Verstappen (Porsche) - 4 laps
6 Campbell-Walter/Hall (Creation-Aim) - 4 laps
7 Primat/Tinseau (Pescarolo-Judd) - 5 laps
8 Ortelli/Ayari (Courage-Oreca-Judd) - 6 laps
9 Lienhard/Theys/Lammers (Porsche) - 8 laps
10 Amaral/Pla (Lola-AER) - 10 laps


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 17 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      This is getting a little ridiculous. Might be time to split the series. If you showed up at most race series with the wrong gas they wouldn't even let you play..
        • 6 Years Ago
        Dave, diesel is perfectly legal. Well thank you for that bit of insight I thought they had fooled the officials are were pretending that they were running gas.... My point is diesels have an unfair advantage and simple restrictors and ballast obviously can't sort it out, so give them their own race.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Diesel is not the "wrong gas". It is perfectly legal. Could say the same about the ALMS running E85, since Le Mans doesn't actually run that - that's just an IMSA thing.

        Anyway, Audi earned the victories this year. They did not have the fastest car, and when pushed to the limit the R10 wasn't even fully reliable. The the McNish/Dindo/TomK run at Le Mans 2008 will go down as one of the greatest Le Mans drivers of all time. Not only a perfect run, but out drove the Peugeots through the night and took a great win.

        ALMS, they don't have any competition. They cannot be blamed for that. LMS (not ELMS, ELMS died years ago) they had to fight the faster Peugeots, over shorter distances, which suited the Peugeots. But the Audi consistency compared with the Peugeots constant issues meant Rocky and Premat were able to take an unexpected title at Silverstone. Peugeot were so confident of taking the title that they were giving away free tickets to the Silverstone LMS Race. Talk about being bitten in the ass eh.

        Concerning Lou's post below - the rules do favour the Diesels too much, which is why the ACO is changing the rules package for 2009, before a major overhaul for 2010/2011. The rules for the 2009 Le Mans Series and Le Mans 24 will limit the diesels more and try and bring the lap times for the LMP1 class down to around the 3.30 mark.

        However it should be noted that the main opposition to the diesel runners has been Henri Pescarolo. Henri is unhappy that his team is getting tanked at the events by diesels and has been complaining very loudly, as he tends to do. But then again, when Henri was the *ONLY* top entry in the 2006 LMS (before Pug/Audi turned up), he wasn't complaining when he swept the series and won every race was he? Domination is only bad when you aren't dominating, eh Henri.

        But I suppose if the current Pescarolo chassis wasn't based on a 5 year old Courage chassis then his team might go somewhere. As it stands, the petrols can run with the diesels at the moment on the shorter twistier circuits, as shown by the Aston Martin engined LMP1 Lola at Silverstone. But wait till Honda/Acura bring there new LMP1 to the party, and Aston show up with the new full LMP1 entry. Then we'll see whats what. And ironicly, they'll destroy Pescarolo into the ground, pushing him further down the grid, despite his battle to get the diesels penalised.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I think the rules favor diesels too much. If you had a 5.5 liter twin turbo gas V12, it would crush the diesel all else being equal. Racing was so much better when they came up with rules and everyone scrambled to build the best mousetrap under given rules...for example when Porsche managed to build 25 Porsche 917s for the new 5 liter rule in 1969. Or have no real rules at all...CanAm up to 1974. That is when you get real innovation. Too bad those days are long gone!
        • 6 Years Ago
        That's also a question of safety, I don't recall the 917 being considered a particularly 'safe' car, even for the days; by today, they would be well over 500km/h top speed.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Agreed. It would be better to say X weight, Y displacement (set standard the same, either turbos for everybody or nobody), Z safety rules.

        Let the innovators fight it out. Petrol vs. diesel. Piston vs. wankel (because, honestly, who wouldn't like to see how much power a 5L Wankel would make, even though it'd get 3MPG unless they *innovated* and found a way to help get better mileage).

        You'd get the wankel with the huge fuel tank that'd get crappy gas mileage, but it'd make up for it in total fuel allowance, with the motor weighing a couple hundred pounds less than the piston motor (allowing more room for fuel)

        ....aaahhh, dreams :)
        • 6 Years Ago
        Why not just use 2 stroke then?
        • 6 Years Ago
        @Carlos, you are very correct about the safety of the 917 both aero-wise, which they worked out, and crash wise. I believe the spaceframe of the car weighed less than 200lbs!!! It was an absolute bullet...250mph in longtail form on Mulsanne by 1971. It took real hard core guys to drive back in those days. I definitely have more respect for the drivers from days gone by than today's rich boys for the most part. Back then there were real consequences for mistakes and misjudgements.
      • 6 Years Ago
      If I weren't a die hard Audi fan, I'd hate them because they've been winning Le Mans like every year.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Maybe someone should insert a "Ferrari International Assistance" joke about Audi, in here, then...
        "Fédération Internationale de l'Audimobile"?
      • 6 Years Ago
      BTW......Corvette won the European Lemans series GT1 class too !!! How about some props for GM. The competition was much tougher there than in the US because no one wanted to face Corvette Racing on their home turf. In Europe the Vettes beat Aston, Saleen, Ferrari 575, Lambo, Maserati, and Spyker. The Corvette teams were private entries too.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Actually, most of those teams couldn't afford to race in two places at once, being smaller private teams. Can't really say that about the Corvette team with their factory infusion of cash and technical assistance.
        • 6 Years Ago
        autoblog:
        ELMS hasn't existed for a long time. It turned into Le Mans Endurance Series, and is now Le Mans Series.

        rick:
        The Corvette teams in Europe are not factory-backed. The team is run by Luc Alphand, who first made his mark in GT1 running used C5-Rs, until he did so well at Le Mans (beating one of Corvette Racing's C6.Rs one year) that GM could no longer ignore him and sold him the first customer C6.Rs.

        I think Luc Alphand's win in LMS is well deserved and worthy of note.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Great Job Audi!!!! What a great year!!! Le Mans was by far the best race i've watched! This just adds to the great year and proves that Audi is currently THE only powerhouse in sports car racing! Now they just need to take DTM!
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