Mission accomplished. The #8 Audi R10 of Frank Biela, Emanuele Pirro and Marco Werner fulfilled Audi's ambition of fielding the first non-gasoline-powered winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In the process the trio set a record for the distance travelled by the winning car, narrowly beating the previous record set by an Audi R8. Despite a lengthy pit stop to replace the faulty fuel injection system, the pole-sitting #7 Audi of Kristensen, Capello and McNish managed a third-place finish in LMP1. The two Audi's bracketed the local fan-favorite Pescarolo team, whose C60 Judd-powered entry driven by Eric Helary, F1 driver Franck Montagny and WRC legend Sebastien Loeb trailed the winning Audi by four laps.
The Corvette squad continued their winning ways at Le Mans, with the #64 entry of Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta and Jan Magnussen winning GT1, five laps ahead of the second place Aston Martin, and a remarkable fourth in the overall classification. The Aston Martins were clearly faster than the Corvettes throughout the race, but a clutch failure Sunday morning dropped the leading Aston Martin to second place. The second car for both the Corvette and Aston Martin teams were delayed repairing crash damage, handing the final step on the GT1 podium to the privateer C5R Corvette of Alphand, Goueslard and Policand, a result that should elevate team owner Luc Alphand (ex-downhill ski racer, winner of this year's Dakar Rally) to near god-like status in his native France.
The GT2 class offered up the first non-Porsche win in quite a while, with the Team LNT Panoz Esperante of Kimber-Smith, Dean and Tomlinson overtaking the class-leading Porsche in the last half-hour when the Porsche limped to the pits with a broken gear-shift. The Porsche finished second, only minutes behind the Panoz, with the Ferrari F430GT of legendary Scottish team Ecurie Ecosse rounding out the podium.
A record race crowd of 235,000 enjoyed the race, while millions more worldwide followed it on TV.
Photo courtesy Audi Motorsports