Audi's two crews using the new R18 Ultra endured mixed emotions in the Le Mans 24 Hours, with newcomers Marco Bonanomi and Oliver Jarvis finishing on the podium alongside former race winner Mike Rockenfeller.
The trio produced a strong drive to battle back from a number of issues, which included an early puncture and then transmission issues that saw the car cut out on track on more than one occasion in the closing stages.
Despite that, the trio came home third behind Audi's two hybrid cars and Jarvis said it was unbelieveable
“Incredible,” he said, “a race with a lot of ups downs. There were phases when I'd have never believed that we'd be able to make it on podium. We were running very fast for a few hours and then our car suddenly stopped on track. That's when I thought 'it's all over now'.
“But the team not only worked hard in that case and we were able to continue. I want to thank the guys; they did an outstanding job. We owe the podium to them. This has made a dream come true for me.”
The sister Ultra however was forced to deal with two separate accidents at the same location on the circuit, with Romain Dumas and Marc Gene putting the car into the tyres at the chicane mid-way down the Mulsanne straight.
The delays for repairs meant the #3 car finished down in fifth place, behind the leading Rebellion Racing Lola.
“Actually, we had a good race in our Audi R18 ultra,” Dumas said. “Unfortunately, we were slowed by two accidents one of which I admit I was at fault in. This incident alone cost us so many laps that the leap onto the podium was no longer possible. Still, nobody in the team needs to feel bad about that. On the whole, all of us did a good job. That particularly goes for our mechanics, who had to repair the car twice.”