Timo Bernhard admitted that taking the chequered flag to secure victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours was the realization of a dream after the #9 Audi R15 TDI headed a podium lock-out for the Ingolstadt squad.
The #9 car ran without major fault during the race and took full advantage of the issues to befall the four Peugeots to take victory – with Bernhard, Mike Rockenfeller and Romain Dumas all tasting overall victory for the first time.
The trio also took their place in the record books after beating the distance record with a total of 397 laps.
"It's incredible!” Bernhard said. “As a child it was always my dream to go to Le Mans. In 2002 I won the GT class, which was already a first step towards my big goal, the overall victory. The fact that I've achieved this so early at the age of 29, I cannot yet really realise. It is crazy!
“It will probably still take one or two days until I really know what we achieved. We had a great race without any problems on the car. The Audi R15 TDI has been running perfectly. Mike, Romain and I have been pushing right from the start. This has paid off. In the end the fight with the Peugeot was getting tighter. But I am convinced that we would have kept the lead anyway – over the distance we just had the right package.”
With the #8 and #7 cars following the race winner home, Audi reclaimed the title it lost last season in stunning style and Audi Sport Team Joest chief Ralf Juttner admitted that the way in which the race panned out was barely believable.
"This Le Mans race will go down in history, and not just because of the new distance record,” he said. “We live in motorsport at a time in which reliability is actually not in question, nobody retires nowadays. The cars normally last and it's all about who is fast and who is slower.
“We concentrated on our strengths: reliability and consistency. We wanted to apply pressure – and we managed to. We probably forced our opponents to risk more than they wanted, so they got problems. That it would turn out so extreme for them was unexpected and nobody could have written the story that eventually turned out.
“There were new drivers here and some that had been with us for the first time last year. The three cars we had were evenly matched this time, which many had missed last year. Everyone was there for one another. When problems arose – and all the difficulties came from the outside, never from ourselves – the others stepped in. Amazing!”