H24: Historic win for dominant Audi
|By Tim Redmayne||Sunday, June 18th 2006, 15:05 GMT|
Audi has become the first manufacturer to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans with a diesel-powered car, after Emanuele Pirro took the chequered flag in the No. 8 R10 TDI.
Pirro took over driving duties just before the final hour started, and he nursed the car home to win by four laps. As is Le Mans tradition, the Italian slowed down on the final lap to take the flag with his rivals in formation style. The winning No. 8 car completed 380 laps.
It is the German manufacturer's sixth win in the classic endurance race in the last seven years.
Double World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb eased home in the second-placed No. 17 Pescarolo Sport car, to make up for the disappointment of retiring last year. Allan McNish was behind the wheel of the third-placed R10.
Oliver Gavin finished off Corvette's late GT1 victory in the number 64 car, securing fourth overall.
Emmanuel Collard took the finish in the fifth-placed No 16 Pescarolo Sport ahead of the leading No. 007 Aston Martin of Andrea Piccini.
Mike Newton took victory in the LMP2 category in the No. 25 MG-Lola, which also won last year.
Cruel luck befell the No. 33 Intersport Lola on the final lap, grinding to a halt on the Mulsanne straight from 19th place and fourth in LMP2.
The only class to be decided in the final hour was GT2. Dominik Farnbacher in the No. 83 Team Seikel Porsche left the pits following his swift gearshift leaver repairs still on the same lap as the new leader, the No. 81 Panoz of Richard Dean.
Farnbacher set about giving everything he had to chase down the two-minute deficit to Dean, however he went off the road and his rear hit the Armco with half an hour to go causing damage to the car, effectively ending his challenge.
The win was Panoz's first victory at La Sarthe on the tenth anniversary of its first participation in the 24-hour race.