Le Mans, May 6, 2001
Audi was fastest in the pre-practice for the 24 Hours of Le Mans on Sunday. Tom
Kristensen recorded the quickest lap of the day in his Infineon Audi R8 breaking last
year´s qualifying record by more than three seconds with his time of 3m 32.742s.
During pre-practice, the two Infineon Audi R8 sportscars ran with modified
aerodynamics they will also use for the race in June. After eleven consecutive wins in
the American Le Mans Series and the triple triumph at the Le Mans 24 Hours classic
last year, the Audi technicians not only optimised details under the body of the
sportscar, but also visibly changed the aerodynamics of the Infineon Audi R8.
“We attempted to tailor the body as closely to the monocoque as possible in order to
further minimize the frontal area of our car,” explains Dr Wolfgang Ullrich, Head of Audi
Sport. Thanks to the new aerodynamic shape, the Infineon Audi R8 features increased
downforce and a lower aerodynamic drag. The airflow through the radiators and
around the front part of the car was also improved.
Audi engineers not only expect higher top speeds on the straights, but at the same
time anticipate lower fuel consumption. The aim is to manage one additional lap from
each tank during the Le Mans race compared to last year.
At the pre-practice, the latest Infineon Audi R8 for the first time encountered its
competitors in the “big” prototype class, including Bentley, Cadillac, Chrysler, Courage-
Peugeot, Dome and Panoz. However, as the pre-practice offered teams the only
chance to test on the demanding Le Mans track, fast lap times were not the first priority
for the Audi Sport Team Joest during the eight hours of practice. “Our task was to find
the best suspension and aerodynamic set-up for the race, and to test our tyres,”
explains team director Reinhold Joest. “We ran through our programme and now have
a lot of important data at our disposal.”
After the tragic death of Michele Alboreto, Audi Sport Team Joest had only four drivers
present for the pre-practice. Last year´s winners Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro drove
the no. 1 Infineon Audi R8, Tom Kristensen shared the other Infineon R8 with Rinaldo
Capello. Laurent Aiello was released by Audi this weekend for the clashing DTM race
at the Nürburgring.
Both Audi customer teams, Champion and Johansson, proved that they are in a strong
position for Le Mans on June 16/17. Both cars also went faster than the 2000 pole