Audi R15 TDI Snags 3rd Place at Le Mans 2009
Audi gets another podium finish this year at Le Mans, but this time it’s third place. Not bad, but I think they were expecting the R15 to do better than it did. Of course there are always growing pains with a brand new piece of machinery like the R15.
All of the Audi drivers were complaining that the R15 was understeering excessively due to the high temperatures. They added a new front bodywork section with a different aerodynamic configuration on Saturday, which helped, according to Tom Kristensen – “Our car was very good after the changes.” Another problem occurred with the intercoolers in the sidepods of the R15s. They became so dirty, that they constantly needed to be cleaned, and as a result of the increasing temperatures, power needed to be occasionally reduced.
Additionally, two of the three R15s were taken out of the race early because of accidents. German driver Lucas Luhr lost control of the car during the high speed “Porsche Curves” and slammed backwards into the barriers, and the R15 was severely damaged. The other R15 TDI was taken out because of a faulty high-pressure injection pump, which is normally very reliable, and as a result, is barely accessible to change.
With the third car being the only running R15, the drivers kept up with the two leading Peugeots, only to have the rear suspension go out, losing them four laps. In the end, the R15 TDI and its drivers did very well finishing 3rd place, but there is no doubt that Audi Sport Team Joest is a bit disappointed with the results. Of course they learned a lot with this race, and will surely make the necessary changes to the R15 TDI to do better next year, and hopefully bring back first place, which they’ve won eight times before.