Audi has vowed to leave 'no stone unturned' in its quest to reclaim the Le Mans 24 Hours title after seeing Peugeot end its winning run at La Sarthe.
The German manufacturer went into the event having won the last five editions of the French classic – with three of those wins coming with the hugely successful R10 TDi.
The replacement for the R10 – the R15 – was making its debut in the race on the back of a winning debut at Sebring earlier this year, but Audi's chances of success were hit by the loss of two of its cars from the victory fight early on.
The #2 car crashed out of the race when Lucas Luhr went off at the Porsche Curves, while the #3 was left well down the order having been delayed when the high-pressure injection pump needed to be changed – necessitating a long stay in the pits for the work to be completed.
It left the car of defending champions Allan McNish, Tom Kristensen and Dindo Capello to go it alone against two of the factory Peugeots, although the trio were forced to contend with rising intercooler temperatures on the car that resulted in the engine power on the car having to be reduced.
Despite the best efforts of the drivers, the R15 was unable to stay in touch with the Peugeots and the loss of four laps to replace the right-rear suspension in the closing hours left them to focus on retaining a position on the podium, eventually taking the flag in third place.
While that continued an impressive run of podiums for Audi at La Sarthe, Audi motorsport chief Wolfgang Ullrich admitted that there was work to be done to discover the root of the problems encountered by the team and said the team would work hard to return to the top step of the podium.
“There is absolutely no doubt that race did not run as we had imagined,” he said. “We have once again seen why the 24 Hours of Le Mans is justifiably regarded as the world's toughest car race and why absolutely everything must be correct if you want to win. This was definitely not the case with us this time.
“We had unexpected problems with our new R15 TDI, which we will now analyse in peace and must solve. However, especially in the second half of the race, we saw just how much potential the car has. We will build on this before making a new attempt next year.”