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.
Audi has chosen the three driver teams that will race the 24 Hours of Le Mans this June. They will be driving the excellent and proven R15 TDI, which is just…great.
The team driving car 1 will be Dindo Capello (Italy), Tom Kristensen (Denmark) and Allan McNish (Scotland) pictured above, which is the same team that won the 12-hour race at Sebring.
Car 2 will be driven by Lucas Luhr, Mike Rockenfeller and Marco Werner (pictured above,) all Germans, who also already ran at Sebring.
Finally, Car 3 will be driven by the German Timo Bernhard and the two French Romain Dumas and Alexandre Prémat, pictured above.
Timo and Romain are both new to the team, and have thoroughly familiarized themselves with the R15 TDI, which has undergone some changes since Sebring. Due to regulations, Audi had to increase the weight of the R15 TDI by 66 lbs, and added an aerodynamics package which better suits the high speed Le Mans track.
Individual driver pictures are below.
For Audi Sport Team Joest, the 77th edition of the endurance classic will start at 2:30 pm on Monday, June 8, with scrutineering in downtown Le Mans. On Wednesday night, a 6-hour free practice session is on the agenda. Qualifying will be held on Thursday night from 7 pm to 9 pm and 10 pm to 12 pm, the race will start at 3 pm on Saturday.
If Audi wins this year, it will be their ninth overall victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, tying Ferrari as best contenders. Good luck Audi!