Victorious Again at Le Mans
Source: Audi Sport
The two 24-hour races, held simultaneously at Le Mans and at the Nürburgring, ended with a 1-2-3 victory for Audi in France. In the French endurance classic, the Audi importer teams Audi Sport Japan Team Goh, Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx and Team ADT Champion Racing finished first, second, third and fifth with their Audi R8 sports cars. One hour earlier, at the Nürburgring, Infineon Team Abt Sportsline had achieved 4th and 8th place-finishes with their pair of Abt-Audi TT-R touring cars. "I am proud of the whole Audi team," declared Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich after Audi's fourth triumph in the most important endurance race of the world. "The race at Le Mans was open until the very last lap, and every minute was exciting. The Nürburgring 24 Hours has been one of the most difficult races in history due to the weather conditions."
Dominating at Le Mans, the Audi teams proved once more Audi's slogan "Vorsprung durch Technik". Despite all four Audi R8 sports cars putting pressure on each other during the entire race, eventually resulting in a new distance record, they ran trouble-free throughout the 24 hours. The race went into the hands of the Japanese importer team on Sunday morning, when the leading Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx's Audi R8 was stationary in the pits for two laps. After this, Jamie Davies, Johnny Herbert and Guy Smith thrilled the 200,000 spectators by reducing the gap to the eventual winners and getting back on the same lap. But Seiji Ara, Rinaldo Capello and Tom Kristensen were able to defend their lead, winning by less than a minute.
The 2004 edition of the 24 Hours on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife will go into history as one of the most spectacular races. For almost 24 hours, 220 teams in front of about 220,000 spectators, had to cope with permanently changing and mostly bad weather conditions. The key to victory was a lucky tyre choice in order to survive the difficult track conditions which kept changing every lap between sunshine and torrential rain.
Finishing 4th (drivers Christian Abt, Patrick Huisman, Frank Stippler, Karl Wendlinger) and 8th, the two Abt-Audi TT-R touring cars made a strong impression. At any time, the two Abt-Audi TT-R cars matched the high pace of the leaders and impressed especially with their reliability. During the whole 24 hours, no unscheduled repairs had to be carried out. Just two incidents with barrier-contacts caused minor repairs to the bodywork, as some bad luck in the tyre choice cost additional time.