Audi scored their ninth overall victory at the 78th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans after a fierce battle between their teams and the Peugeots. After winning the 24-hour race at Le Mans last year, Peugeot was the defending champion, but in the early hours of Sunday, the French manufacturer encountered several mechanical problems and it was the Audi team that once again won this long endurance classic.
The Audi Sport North American entry, with drivers Mike Rockenfeller (DEU), Timo Bernhard (DEU) and Romain Dumas (FRA), scored a fine win in record setting speed. After 24 hours, their Audi R15TDI had a one-lap margin over teammates Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer in car 8, and finished two laps ahead of the experienced team in car 7 with Rolex Testimonee driver Tom Kristensen and fellows McNish and Capello. For Mike Rockenfeller it was his second 24-hour race win this year after being part of the winning team at the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January. He is one of only four drivers who has achieved this double in the history of these long endurance races. “I am so excited about this win and after my Rolex 24 win earlier this year, I couldn’t be happier,” said the Audi German driver. His team took the lead on Sunday morning after Peugeot encountered mechanical problems during the night and early morning. “It was a hard battle all during the night, but we just stayed out of trouble and won on reliability.”
“With the new regulations, we decided to play it safe and go for reliability rather than speed,” commented Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, Audi’s head of motorsport. “It was our fourth triple here in Le Mans. It was difficult but maybe also the most rewarding,” he added.
The Strakka Racing team of Leventis/Watts/Kane took 1st place in LMP2, finishing 5th overall. In the GT classes, the Labre Competition and the Felbmayer Porsche took the honors.
The Audi Sport North American team completed 397 laps and averaged 225.228 kilometers an hour. In doing so, they set a new record, originally set in 1971 by Gijs van Lennep and Dr. Helmut Marko in a Porsche 917. “I won here several years ago in the GT class, but this is so much more rewarding,” said a delighted Rockenfeller.
On Saturday, 55 cars started the 78th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and 24 hours later only 27 cars made it to the finish.
24 Hours of Le Mans 2010 – Photo Gallery
[Source: Photo credit: Rolex / Stuart Wallace / Jad Sherif / Stephan Cooper]