Audi claim historic Le Mans win

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Emanuele Pirro, Frank Biela and Marco Werner made history by becoming the first drivers to win the Le Mans 24-hour race in a diesel-powered car.

The Audi R10 Diesel completed a record 380 laps of the La Sarthe circuit, with Pirro at the wheel for the finish.

French trio Sebastien Loeb, Eric Helary and Franck Montagny took second in the Pescarolo Judd No 17, four laps adrift.

Scotsman Allan McNish was third in the other Audi, which came in 13 laps down after suffering mechanical problems.

It marked the end of a six-year unbeaten run in the event for McNish's team-mate Tom Kristensen of Denmark.

McNish, Kristensen and Rinaldo Capello had started the race on pole.

But their car was hit by a problem with the windscreen, and more serious trouble saw it return to the pits for lengthy work and slip down to 16th at one stage.

I wanted to be a part of this project so badly when I was told about the adventure

Emanuele Pirro

"It's a double-edged sword - from a team point of view it's a fantastic achievement but we are driven to win," said McNish.

"We knew we had the competitiveness to do it."

After losing the lead briefly on the 14th lap, Werner, Biela and Pirro held on to it throughout the race.

The only delay to affect their progress was a gearbox change after 11 hours, but the repairs took less than 10 minutes.

Audi led every lap as the diesel cars, as expected, enjoyed greater fuel economy but also proved quicker than their petrol-powered rivals.

It is the sixth time Audi have won the race, and the fourth Le Mans victory for both Biela and Pirro.

"I wanted to be a part of this project so badly when I was told about the adventure," said Pirro.

"I couldn't even ask to win the race because that would be too much - I just wanted to be here."

The Pescarolo team had cut the deficit to two laps during the night.

But Montagny then slid into a gravel trap at Mulsanne corner and although he managed to restart the car after it was pushed into an exit road, the lost time ended their hopes.

The second Pescarolo Sport team finished fifth after a race plagued with mechanical issues.

GT1 entrant Corvette Racing, which included Britain's Oliver Gavin, was fourth.

The Racing for Holland team had been on course for third until just past the midway point, when Malaysia's former Formula One driver Alex Yoong crashed his Dome-Judd into the barriers after his throttle stuck open.

Aston Martin completed the top six, with Andre Piccini taking the flag for second in the GT1 class in the car he shared with Oxford-based Darren Turner and Tomas Enge.

There was British success in the LMP2 category as well, with Mike Newton and Andy Wallace teaming up with Brazilian Thomas Erdos to take the honours in their Lola.

Story from BBC SPORT:

Published: 2006/06/18 15:03:48 GMT


We knew Audi could do it and they did. History is made at Le Mans. Audi has done it, a diesel winning at Le Mans. Hats off to Audi.

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Wooo, father owns an Audi. A cheapo of the audis, but it is an audi. The a4, I like them! My favorite feature is the four wheel drive actually lol.

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I'm very impressed by the progress diesel has made in last five years. Although it has yet to make an impact in the states, it's a technology that has huge potential whether it's the economic benefits of future hybrid / diesels all the way up to the monster V10 diesels that have an ocean of torque at your disposal while not completely killing you at the pump. Le Mans victory has shown the reliablity of the diesel engine as a performance car and who knows what the next generation diesels will look like for the buyer. I was fortunate enough to drive two diesels on two different trips to Europe. A Volkswagen Golf TDI and a Toyota Avensis. You really couldn't hardly tell you were driving a diesel in both cars; more so in the Toyota. I averaged close to 50MPG in both cars, plus the low end torque of even these smaller engined cars was quite impressive. If Audi, by winning Le Mans in a diesel, can prove the point that the diesels have come a long way since the Audi diesels of the 80's, I'm hoping the prejudice towards diesels can and will be lifted. If only those skeptical types actually took a drive in a modern diesel car because I think they'd be pleasantly surprised. To be frank, I'm still an Audi RS4 admirer, but I'm really warming up to what diesel's have to offer the marketplace.

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My parents 2 main cars, my brother car are diesels now.

I watch this race on tv and it was amazing at how fast the audi's were and hwo no one was able to really race them

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Diesel tech really has come on leaps and bounds and this just shows how much further it has come! Incredible! :)

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