Le Mans, France — Audi enjoyed a successful dress rehearsal for the Le Mans 24-hour race on coming up in June. During the pre-practice on Sunday, the three Infineon Audi R8 sports cars from Audi Sport Team Joest and Audi Sport North America once again ran like clockwork. During the eight available hours of testing, the Audi works drivers covered a total of 303 laps – equivalent to a distance of more than 4000 kilometers (2600 miles) – without any problems.
The latest generation Infineon Audi R8 proved not only to be reliable but also very fast especially during the closing stages: Just before the end of the pre-practice at 6:00 p.m., Rinaldo Capello set the fastest time of the day in the number 2 Infineon Audi R8. With his lap time of 3:30.296 the Italian went faster than his pole position time from last year by more than two seconds, despite the Le Mans track now being 275 meters (300.74 yards) longer because of a new corner between the famous “Dunlop Bridge” and the “Esses”.
The two other Infineon Audi R8 sports cars finished third and fourth. For the Audi Sport Japan Team Goh, the pre-practice ended premature after Seiji Ara went off at “Tetre Rouge”.
1. Capello/Herbert/Pescatori (Infineon Audi R8) 3:30.296s
Quotes after the Le Mans pre-practice:
Rinaldo Capello (Infineon Audi R8 #2): “I’ve been suffering with kidney stones for the past two days. In the car I am comfortable but it is painful when I am standing. I ultimately set the fastest time in the last 10 minutes which was very pleasing.”
Johnny Herbert (Infineon Audi R8 #2): “We worked through a set program and can now return with just two options to work with which is a perfect scenario. ”
Christian Pescatori (Infineon Audi R8 #2): “An excellent day with good lap times. I had the possibility to learn more about different wing settings. This helps me for the race.”
Frank Biela (Infineon Audi R8 #1): “We shared the work today. I concentrated on the set-up of the suspension, Tom with the aerodynamics and Emanuele with the tires. We made good progress throughout the day – the car now feels very good.”
Tom Kristensen (Infineon Audi R8 #1): “The car is great. I worked on aerodynamic data. I had a couple of runs on qualifiers but both were spoiled by traffic.”
Emanuele Pirro (Infineon Audi R8 #1): “I am happy with what we’ve all achieved. I evaluated different race tire compounds. The indications are looking good for the race next month.”
Michael Krumm (Infineon Audi R8 #3): “I am impressed how good the Audi handles here. I could not have imagined how easy it is to drive fast in this car. I never had so much fun at Le Mans like today.”
Philipp Peter (Infineon Audi R8 #3): “I underestimated the traffic, the speed differential is quite big. You have to get used to it and find more confidence.”
Marco Werner (Infineon Audi R8 #3): “Everything is new to me, the car and the track, but I progressed well. I especially like the fast sections. At Le Mans it is very important to feel comfortable.”
Seiji Ara (Audi R8 #5): “I went off the track at Tetre Rouge when I was on qualifying tires for the first time damaging the rear bodywork. It was a shame as it stopped our test early.”
Yannick Dalmas (Audi R8 #5): “I am learning. The track I know very well, but the Audi is still very new to me – it’s a wonderful car. Although our practice ended early, we have a good balance on the car for when we return.”
Hiroki Katoh (Audi R8 #5): “The Audi R8 is the first turbocharged sportscar I have ever driven and the power is stunning. We worked on the set-up so that we save time during the race week.”
Reinhold Joest (Team Director Audi Sport Team Joest): “Apart from some minor things everything went well. We are superbly prepared. I think we have found a very good basis for the race in June.”
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Sport): “We completed our program without problems. The times are much faster than last year. But you can also see that our competitors have done a good job. The ORECA car and the MG Lola are very fast. The qualifying will be very exciting.”