Audi’s Surprise Domination at LeMans as Ganassi Dominates Grand-Am

Orlando, FL (June 23, 2010) – Sports car racing is in full speed with 24 Hours of Lemans over and Audi taking the title again. The Audi Team set several new records and went into the race really being the underdog the favored Peugeot team. Peugeot really showed serious speed in qualifying with all four cars on top.

At the start of the twice around the clock race it really was not looking good for Audi. But as the race went on the Peugeot’s began having problems. However Audi stayed with their game plan. As the hours clicked on, the race began coming to them as the long shot was the third car of Mike Rockenfeller, Timo Bernard and Romain Dumas. With Tom Kristensen having trouble with a back marker it opened the door for the number 9 Audi and made Rockenfeller the youngest Audi driver to win at LeMans at age 26. Audi also broke the record from 1971 for most distance covered as they did a record 397 laps which was a distance of 5,410.713 kilometers, remember 1971 there were no chicanes. They also only used 11 sets of tires and the victorious Audi R15 TDI pitted 33 times. The pit stop time was just barely 20 minutes. The replacement of the right-hand outside mirror (approx. 20 seconds) was the only unscheduled work, plus an additional tire change as a result of a slow puncture just before the end of the race. This was their ninth victory in twelve events and the fifth year in a row a Diesel powered car. A total of eleven drivers have won at Le Mans in an Audi up to now: Seiji Ara (1 victory with Audi), Timo Bernhard (1), Frank Biela (5), Dindo Capello (1), Romain Dumas (1), Tom Kristensen (6), JJ Lehto (1), Allan McNish (1), Emanuele Pirro (5), Mike Rockenfeller (1) and Marco Werner (3).

After the race, Rockenfeller was quoted as saying, “It is simply incredible. I am overwhelmed. It was always my big dream, my goal to win Le Mans. At the beginning I had a difficult time at Audi. Now I’m grateful that they had confidence and believed in me. Finally I managed to win.” Rockenfeller was the first driver since 1988 (Jan Lammers) to have won the 24-hour races at Daytona and LeMans in the same year. I had the opportunity to chat with ‘Rocky’ and the win still has not sunk in. The Lemans win is what he wanted and worked for his whole life and to get both races the same year it was a dream come true. A very successful year for the fine German driver, not sure where you go from here?

The Grand-Am series will be back at Daytona in couple weeks for what was originally called the Paul Revere 250 back in the day. We will find out if anyone has something for the powerful Target-Chip Ganassi team as last week they won their fifth race of the season at Mid-Ohio. If anyone was wondering if Chip made the right move to BMW I think has worked out fine. I think everyone is wondering if the BMW’s get a competition adjustment as Grand-Am did to Porsche after last year’s 24 Hours of Daytona. Will they let Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas win the rest of the races? The way the team is running, anything is possible. Not sure how many races you have to win for them to do anything but Porsche is wondering. Daytona should be an exciting event as they usually will have some NASCAR drivers in the race to make it interesting.

Also at Mid-Ohio, Spencer Pumpelly and Steve Bertheau won Saturday’s GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, after the top two Grand Sport (GS) cars tangled and spun out with less than five minutes remaining.

Off to Daytona for the Brumos Porsche 250 on July 3.

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