Audi's hybrid Le Mans win 'high value' says boss Dr Wolgang Ullrich
|By Simon Strang||Sunday, June 17th 2012, 16:14 GMT|
Audi's motorsport boss Dr Wolfgang Ullrich described the value of the manufacturer's 11th victory at Le Mans as 'very high' after it became the first car maker in history to win the race with hybrid technology and four-wheel drive.
The two Audi R18 e-tron quattros finished first and second in the 2012 event after leading almost the entire way, and having also been the first manufacturer to win with a diesel engine, in 2006, Ullrich described this new achievement as special.
"The value is very high, because I mean we have always been pushing through the years to bring new technologies to run at Le Mans in race cars," he told AUTOSPORT. "Then to push them to their limit and then bring this technology into our road cars and make it available to our customers is why we go racing."
Contrary to speculation, the two hybrid cars were left free to race until the penultimate hour, following Allan McNish's accident at the Porsche Curves - which effectively ruled out any threat to the winning #1 car of Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler.
Ullrich admitted that he had taken pride in allowing his four cars to race for the win.
"I'm taking satisfaction for sure out of that because I know my drivers quite well and we trust each other," he said.
"This was a race of the kind you can arguably experience only at Le Mans," he added. "You should never rejoice too early at Le Mans, which was obvious again especially on Sunday noon. The whole world was already talking about a one-two-three-four victory and all of a sudden two of our cars had accidents almost simultaneously.
"That the squad repeatedly managed to repair the cars so quickly after the slips clearly speaks for Audi Sport Team Joest that can simply be banked on at Le Mans.
"It was a very big challenge to develop a hybrid car in such a short time that is quick and able to hold up for 24 hours. The fact that, as in 2001 with the TFSI engine and in 2006 with the TDI, we managed to be successful right on the first run simply proves the level of technological expertise that is available at Audi."