The last use of the Audi R8 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans could hardly have been more impressive: in one of the most exciting and hot races in Le Mans history, Tom Kristensen (Denmark), JJ Lehto (Finland) and Marco Werner (Germany) ensured the fifth victory of the Audi R8 in the French endurance classic.
A record crowd of 230,000 spectators experienced a demonstration of “Vorsprung durch Technik”. While many of the 49 launched vehicles suffered under the enormous heat of up to 35 degrees in the shade, the three Audi R8 of the Audi importer teams from the USA and France ran without any major technical problems for 24 hours. The Audi drivers were able to defy the handicaps prescribed by the regulations. The trio Kristensen / Lehto / Werner, who had already won the 12-hour race at the start of the season in Sebring (USA), took the lead at the start of the fourth hour of the race and did not relinquish it until the finish.
The victory of the ADT Champion Team is the first Le Mans victory for team owner Dave Maraj, the seventh Le Mans victory for Tom Kristensen and Marco Werner reaches his goal in his first Le Mans victory in all three major sports car endurance races (24 Hours Daytona, 12 H Sebring and the 24h of Le Mans).
Result 24 hours from Le Mans 2005
- Kristensen/Lehto/Werner (Audi R8) 370 Rd. in 24:01.30,901 Std.
- Collard/Boullion/Comas (Pescarolo-Judd) – 2 Rd.
- Biela/McNish/Pirro (Audi R8) – 6 Rd.
- Gounon/Montagny/Ortelli (Audi R8) – 8 Rd.
- Gavin/Beretta/Magnussen (Chevrolet) – 21 Rd.
Voices after the race:
Tom Kristensen: “This is a fantastic day – just amazing. It was a great honor to drive the R8 and win most of my victories. As always, I had a great team, great teammates and hard but fair opponents. Even though I have overtaken Jacky Ickx in the number of victories, he is unique, a great personality, and will always be the, Mr. Le Mans’ stay. He called me before the race and wished me luck, now I’m looking forward to seeing him again. Every race at Le Mans is unique, unmistakable and hard. This was certainly one of the toughest for me.”
JJ Lehto: “With the reduced power and additional weight, driving with the Audi R8 is not so much fun anymore. The car was good and reliable all the time, but I was never 100% happy. In the traffic one lost fast five seconds, which one could not catch up any longer. It was really hard. My only incident happened this morning when I hit an oil spill in Mulsanne and caught a brake disk. But it could have been worse. I had to wait a long time for my first Le Mans win since 1995 – and I’m still the only Finn to win Le Mans.”
Marco Werner: “I’m just happy. Three times I was already on the podium, today it finally worked out with the first victory. For me, this is the biggest success of my career and surpasses everything I’ve experienced so far. I had the right car, the best team and the best teammates this year. I will never forget the whole week here in Le Mans in this team and with these unique fans.”