Audi has dominated Le Mans for years, wining the last five Le Mans 24hr events. But not this year. This year it was the turn of Peugeot – with the Peugeot 908 prototypes – who not only overturned the form book to take first place, but also managed a 1-2 and pushed Audi – with their new R15 TDI – down in to third place.
The winning Peugeot (#9) was driven by Alexander Wurz, David Brabham and Marc Gene, whilst second place was taken by Sébastien Bourdais, Franck Montagny and Stéphane Sarrazinin in car #8, just one lap behind, and five laps in front of Audi’s #1 car driven by Allan McNish, Rinaldo Capello and Tom Kristensen. In fact, the Audi car #1 (the other Audi entries had fallen by the wayside) finished just one lap ahead of Lola Aston Martin’s #007 car.
The usual racing excuses were out in full, with Audi claiming that the cancellation of the traditional testing day this year meant they were unable to set up the R15 TDI properly in time for the race (Peugeot seemed to manage to get the 908s ready!). But what would you expect them to say? They came to Le Mans expecting their sixth successive title and failed. But to be fair, the Audi was stronger later in the event, which tends to indicate there may be substance to their claim.
But it was a well-deserved Peugeot victory. Which will do no harm to Peugeot’s desire to move the perception of their cars in to ‘Sporty’ mode, in a shift in the focus of PSA’s marketing with Peugeot becoming the ‘Sporty’ element and Citroen the ‘Luxury’ with their range of DS models.
Well done Peugeot.