|June 16, 2002
Audi Extends Lead at Le Mans
Audi continued to demonstrate "Vorsprung durch Technik" throughout the night in the 2002 Le Mans 24 Hour race: The three Infineon Audi R8 sportscars were not only the fastest cars in the field, but also the most reliable ones. Despite two punctures on each car, the three "works" Audi extended their lead over the rest of the field with consistent lap-times. After two-thirds of the race distance, the Bentley in 4th place was eight laps behind the leading R8 of Frank Biela, Tom Kristensen and Emanuele Pirro.
The winning trio of the past two years took the lead on Saturday evening shortly before 8 p.m. and have extended their lead over the other two Infineon Audi R8 sportscars to two laps. "We lost a lot of time with two punctures", explained Johnny Herbert, who - just like Christian Pescatori - was driving for almost four hours non-stop at the steering wheel of the number 2 Infineon Audi R8. "I simply feel comfortable in this car."
"The R8 is so good that you can drive it even with one hand," added Marco Werner. "During a stint in the night I had to hold my head with a hand in the fast sections because the small windscreen was missing in the cockpit. It is astonishing what a big aerodynamic effect such a little screen has."
Newcomers Michael Krumm, Philipp Peter and Marco Werner have so far driven an impressive race with the number 3 Infineon Audi R8. They were up to second position temporarily and on the same lap as the R8 of Rinaldo Capello, Johnny Herbert and Christian Pescatori after two-thirds distance.
Seiji Ara, Yannick Dalmas and Hiroki Katoh have fought back in 2001-spec R8 of the Japanese Audi customer team Goh. The trio lost about half an hour due to a water radiator change, but had already worked their way back into the top-10 on Sunday morning.
Frank Biela, Tom Kristensen and Emanuele Pirro meanwhile have a great chance to achieve a historic hat-trick: Never before in the history of the Le Mans 24 Hour race has the same driver squad won three times in a row.
Visit the Le Mans 2002 picture gallery.