Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich was keen to express his respect for Porsche after winning the 2014 Le Mans 24 Hours.

The #2 Audi of Benoit Treluyer, Marcel Fassler and Andre Lotterer took victory at Le Mans on Sunday after a thrilling race, taking over the lead from the #20 Porsche with a little over two hours to go. Both Porsche cars ultimately retired in the closing stages on their return to the top class at Le Mans for the first time since 1998, but Ullrich said it had been an impressive effort from Audi's rivals.

"It was a race of the kind you can only experience at Le Mans," Ullrich said. "There were many incidents and none of the top cars made it across the distance without any problems. The decisive factors were that our Audi R18 e-tron quattro cars were able to drive consistently fast for 24 hours, our drivers made no mistakes and our squad responded properly and quickly to the issues that occurred.

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"In Porsche and Toyota we had two really strong rivals who, as expected, did not make life easy for us. I always believed that, in spite of the particularly difficult prerequisites for us this year, we'd be able to succeed and that we've got the most efficient race car.

"That we succeeded again makes me feel proud. 'Thanks' also from me to the whole squad, but to our Management Board and our Group as well that make it possible for us to demonstrate 'Vorsprung durch Technik' at le Mans year after year. But I also express my respect for the performance delivered by Porsche on their return to Le Mans."

And Ullrich said the race ranks as one of Audi's greatest wins in his view due to the ever-changing fortunes for each team throughout the 24 hours.

"This was no doubt one of the most thrilling and action-packed races at Le Mans. For us, it was also one of the most difficult ones and that's why, in my personal ranking of emotions, it takes one of the top spots. The whole week was a period of many highs and lows for us. And during the 24 hours every car was running in front at least once.

"In the first two thirds of the race, it was our rivals and in the final third we worked our way towards the front. This can only be achieved with a very special team performance. The combination of an efficient concept and a team of strong drivers, who extract the best from it - that was the key to success."