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Le Mans 24 Hrs 2008: Audi defends title.

For the second successive year, Audi held off the challenge of Peugeot to secure victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours despite another late rain shower in the final three hours that threatened to put a spanner in the works.

Tom Kristensen brought the #2 R10 successfully to the finish to continue his love affair with the French classic as the 'Great Dane' took his eighth win, while team-mate Allan McNish took the crown ten years after his previous win with Porsche.

Heading into the final three hours of the race, Kristensen led the way ahead of the Peugeot of Marc Gene but the Dane suffered a scare in the 22nd hour when he was involved in contact with the LMP2 Barazi-Epsilon Zytek of Juan Barazi at the Dunlop chicane. Luckily for the team, Kristensen was able to keep going without the need to return to the pits for any repairs and maintained his advantage of a lap over the Peugeot.

Nicolas Minassian took over at the wheel of the #7 Peugeot for the final two hours while Audi elected to leave Kristensen at the wheel of the Audi for the run to the flag and the Frenchman set about trying to close the gap to the leader.

Minassian got himself back onto the lead lap but at the conclusion of the 23rd hour, heavy rain started to fall at La Sarthe with the teams then facing a tough call over which was to go with tyres with part of the circuit being wet but the other half being dry.

Audi pitted Kristensen from the lead and put the R10 onto cut intermediate tyres but when the Peugeot pitted, Minassian was unable to pull straight into his pit box and the team had to quickly get the car straightened up before completing its stop. However, in what looked like a huge gamble, the team decided not to change the tyres on the 908 and send Minassian back onto the circuit on slick rubber.

Minassian soon appeared to be struggling for grip around the Porsche Curves and then suffered a lurid spin at the Dunlop Curve where he was lucky not to be collected by the GT2 Porsche of Seth Neiman.

The gap started to come down however as Minassian pushed, while Kristensen lost some time when he was baulked behind the GT1 Lamborghini while making his way through traffic.

Although the gap came down to under 2mins 30secs, Minassian wasn't taking enough time out of the Audi to take the win and on his final stop, the team put the car onto full wets with the chances of victory having seemingly passed. That wasn't the end of the drama for the car however as on his out lap, Minassian was clearly struggling – with the rear of the car clearly not keen to go in the same direction as the front.



Related Pictures

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McNish, Capello, Kristensen - Audi R10 TDI
Jann Mardenborough at the GT Academy
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Mark Webber (AUS)
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