Ingolstadt/Le Mans – All set for the "race of the year": covering a total of almost 2,600 kilometres on the only official test day, the Audi drivers prepared themselves for the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans to be staged on 14 and 15 June. The Audi R10 TDI vehicles completed the eight-hour test without the slightest technical problem.
As early as two weeks before the race, the sky above Le Mans provided a small foretaste of the uniqueness and unpredictability of this endurance classic: during the whole day, bright sunshine and summer temperatures alternated with heavy rain. At times, the drivers even reported that they had encountered hail on some of the sectors of the 13.629-kilometre circuit.
During each of the two four-hour practice sessions, Audi Sport Team Joest completely concentrated on finding a fast setup for the three Audi R10 TDI cars suiting all of the drivers equally well. The car of last year’s victors, Frank Biela, Emanuele Pirro and Marco Werner, completed various tests with the Michelin tyres. Car #2 driven by Dindo Capello, Le Mans record winner Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish tried out different aerodynamics versions, while car #3 with Lucas Luhr, Mike Rockenfeller and local hero Alexandre Prémat at the wheel was to concentrate on long runs.
Although the weather conditions repeatedly affected the programmes planned for the vehicles, Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich provided a positive summary of the tests: "Today was a productive day of testing for us because we were able to work out results in highly varied conditions. This means we’ve already got a basic setup for the race weekend for any type of condition. Today, it was only possible to set really good times for half an hour, which showed us the capabilities of our rivals. At the same time, we continued working on our programmes as planned."
The official test day has a special significance for the teams. It is the only testing opportunity for the drivers and the "material" on the circuit, which partially consists of – normally public – secondary roads. While Alexandre Prémat had set the fastest time at Le Mans in the morning, Marco Werner, as the quickest Audi driver, was clocked at 3m 26.678s in the afternoon, in third place overall.
"Unfortunately, today wasn’t exactly the kind of day we’d been wishing for. Although in the rain and in changing conditions we were able to sort and try many things, we’d have preferred driving on a dry track for a longer period of time," said Marco Werner, who last won the 24 Hours of Le Mans three times in a row. In view of the times set by the rivals Werner remained cool. "I think that the results we saw on the times monitor today do not truly reflect the situation yet. But, in any event, we’ve still got a lot of work to do during the race week."
On the test day at Le Mans, the V12 TDI engine of the Audi R10 used latest-generation Shell V-Power Diesel race fuel for the first time. The fuel, which is produced from biological waste materials, will make its worldwide racing début at the 24 Hours of Le Mans two weeks from now. For Audi Sport Team Joest, the race week at Le Mans will start as early as on Tuesday with Technical Scrutineering at the Place de Jacobins. After the two qualifying sessions on Wednesday and Thursday, the 76th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans will start at 3 p.m. on 14 June.
The results of the test day
1 Lamy/Sarrazin/Wurz (Peugeot) 3m 22.222s (62 laps)
2 Montagny/Klein/Zonta (Peugeot) 3m 26.641s (71 laps)
3 Biela/Pirro/Werner (Audi R10 TDI) 3m 26.678s (61 laps)
4 Gene/Minassian/Villeneuve (Peugeot) 3m 27.248s (44 laps)
5 Luhr/Prémat/Rockenfeller (Audi R10 TDI) 3m 28.359s (59 laps)
6 Primat/Tinseau/Treluyer (Pescarolo-Judd) 3m 33.939s (44 laps)
7 Collard/Boullion/Dumas (Pescarolo-Judd) 3m 35.443s (38 laps)
8 Ayari/Duval/Groppi (Courage-Judd) 3m 36.264s (55 laps)
9 Mücke/Enge/Charouz (Lola-Aston Martin) 3m 36.426s (25 laps)
10 Capello/Kristensen/McNish (Audi R10 TDI) 3m 37.011s (68 laps)
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