Audi's winning drivers in the Le Mans 24 Hours thought it would be "impossible" to recover from the turbo problems that cost the car the lead on Sunday morning.
The #2 Audi of Andre Lotterer, Marcel Fassler and Benoit Treluyer lost five laps when it was forced into the pits to have a new turbo fitted, which handed the lead to the #1 Audi.
The same problem later struck the sister car, handing the advantage back to the #2 R18 e-tron quattro that went onto win the race.
"When we had the turbo problem we were very disappointed because it's impossible to come back from that," said Lotterer.
"We were a bit unlucky, but at Le Mans you never know what is going to happen and the team motivated me again - they did a great job."
Fassler added: "We tried to put pressure on the Toyota in the lead [earlier in the race] but they were so fast.
"When we had the problem with the turbo - if you lose five laps it's impossible to get them back.
"But this time everyone had problems. We had to be flat out and have no penalties - it isn't easy to do that when you are pushing."
Audi Sport boss Wolfgang Ullrich said that the turbo problems caught Audi out because it was a well-tested part of the car.
"We have won already with this turbo and we had no problems with it in the past," he said.
"Today it was a surprise for us. What happened with the first car - we never had this problem before.
"Then we saw the same signs on the other car (#1) too so we had to change that too."
Ullrich added that Audi's previous experience of winning races at Le Mans against faster rivals helped it prepare for this year's contest with Toyota and Porsche.
"We were not at the level of the others," he said. "We were not able to do the fastest lap but that's not the first time that has happened to us.
"You have to find a strategy for 24 hours, and the race developed in our favour.
"This is a result of the hard work we put in, but maybe lady luck smiled on us as well."