Lucas Luhr has admitted that he may have been to blame for the #2 Audi's dramatic exit from the Le Mans 24 Hours, even though television footage suggested a mechanical failure may have pitched the car off the road.
At 9-30pm, Luhr left the track entering the Porsche Curves and slammed heavily backwards into the tyre wall. The rear right-hand corner of the R15 was folder at 90-degrees to its original position, and the rear wing was removed completely following the impact, but the German still tried to bring the car back to the pits, before the stewards eventually persuaded him that such a move would be dangerous, both for him and rival competitors.
"I still can't exactly explain the reason for the accident," Luhr admitted, "I braked normally for the Porsche Curves when the rear suddenly stepped out of line. I tried to correct and collect the car, but the sector is simply too fast for this.
"The car spun around before slamming into the tyre barrier very hard [but], even though the Audi was still running, the corner workers didn't allow me to return to the track. We now have to analyse just exactly what happened there, but I'm bitterly sorry for everybody who has worked so hard for this race, and of course especially my team mates."
Audi's report on the incident included the claim that 'a technical defect can be excluded', suggesting that it may share Luhr's admission that he could have been to blame.
"Le Mans is the world's toughest race – as many people have unfortunately found out today," veteran Marco Werner commented, "Le Mans has given me a great deal, but sometimes it makes you pay a high price, just like today.
"The guys from Audi and the team have worked incredibly hard throughout the whole week, they never got to bed early once and have invested so much passion in this project. It hurts now to just see how many mechanics are standing here with tears in their eyes. For Lucas and I, Le Mans was the race of the year since we no longer race in the American Le Mans Series - we've had some fantastic years here and had as good as assumed that all the cars would reach the finish in one piece. Today showed us, painfully, that you just simply shouldn't think like this."
Third crew member Mike Rockenfeller had some sympathy for his colleague, recalling how it felt to remove an Audi from contention at Le Mans.
"First and foremost, it is important that Lucas is okay," the young German insisted, "I couldn't believe it at first when I saw the pictures of the accident on the screen. After losing a car myself in difficult conditions during my first Le Mans race for Audi, I had hoped that such a thing would never happen to us again. I was just getting ready for my next stint, and we are all extremely disappointed, since not reaching the finish at Le Mans is the worst possible scenario for a racing driver."
The #2's exit left just one Audi in position to challenge the Peugeots for victory, although the #1 was also struggling to close down the leading #9 908.