LE MANS, France, Reuters
The Audi works cars repeated last-year’s one-two at Le Mans on Sunday, but a combination of wet weather and the return of Bentley after 71 years prevented the German team from claiming another podium sweep at the endurance classic.
Italian Emanuele Pirro, who once again shared the winning car with German Frank Biela and Dane Tom Kristensen, brought the car home to win the 69th version of the race after completing 321 laps of the 13.605-km circuit, one more than the second car — driven by Rinaldo Capello, Laurent Aiello and Christian Pescatori.
The Andy Wallace, Eric van der Poele and Butch Leitzinger-driven Bentley was in third place, 15 laps behind the winning car, heralding the arrival of the British marque as a major force at the Circuit de la Sarthe for the first time since 1930.
The Chrysler driven by GT duo Olivier Beretta and Karl Wendlinger along with Pedro Lamy was fourth, to win the ‘best of the rest’ honours.
The two non-factory Audis went out late in Saturday’s portion of the race, which was disrupted by heavy rain throughout, leading to the safety car making four appearances.
Only 21 of the 48 cars which started managed to overcome the extremely difficult conditions and finish.