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Audi and Bentley clean-sweep Le Mans classic for VW

Powering on: Tom Kristensen races into the French gloom in the winning Audi R8.

Two wins in a row for Audi and for Biela, Kristensen and Pirro

18 Jun 2001

AUDI has won the world's toughest sports car race, the Le Mans 24-hour, for the second year in a row.

In a repeat of last year's victory, Frank Biela, Tom Kristensen and Emanuele Pirro crossed the finishing line as winners. The sister Audi R8 of Laurent Aiello, Rinaldo Capello and Christian Pescatori completed an Audi 1-2 just one lap behind.

The factory Bentley EXP Speed 8 Prototype combination of Andy Wallace, Butch Leitzinger and Eric van de Poele claimed a remarkable third place, no less than 71 years since the famous marque last competed at Le Mans.

The result was a triumph for Volkswagen, which owns both Audi and Bentley, the latter entry also powered by an Audi engine.

Ahead from the 22nd lap, the eventual winner never let go of its lead, despite atrocious weather conditions during Saturday night. The victorious car completed 321 laps and a total of 4357.205km.

"To win Le Mans is difficult. To achieve it a second time is even more difficult," said Biela. "When we came here we knew we had a very competitive car but you have to make sure that everything is reliable and lasts for 24 hours.

"We made it. Very often we had to take decisions at the right moment. We were very good at this. The team did a great strategical job." The winning trio dedicated their second consecutive victory in the French endurance classic to their late teammate Michele Alboreto.

The Italian was set to drive at Le Mans this year, but was killed while testing this weekend's race-winning Audi R8 sportscar model at the Lausitzring in April.

Chrysler claimed fourth position outright and first in the LMP 900 class. The Mopar 6-litre V8 powered Chrysler LMP driven by Olivier Beretta, Karl Wendlinger and Pedro Lamy, finished 23 laps behind the winning Audi.

The ROC Competition Reynard-Lehmann of Jean-Denis Deleltraz, Jordi Gene and Pascal Fabre finished fifth overall to win the LMP 675 class, while the Ron Fellows, Johnny O'Connell, Scott Pruett Corvette came home eighth to wrap up the GTS class.

Victory in the GT category went to the Seikel Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3-RS of Gabrio Rosa, Fabio Babini and Luca Drudi.

1 Biela/Kristensen/Pirro (Audi R8) 321 laps
2 Aiello/Capello/Pescatori (Audi R8) - 1 laps
3 Wallace/Leitzinger/van de Poele (Bentley) - 15 laps
4 Beretta/Wendlinger/Lamy (Chrysler) - 23 laps
5 Deletraz/Fabre/Gene (Reynard-VW) - 37 laps
6 Rosa/Babini/Drudi (Porsche) - 38 laps
7 Jeannette/Dumas/Haezebrouck (Porsche) - 39 laps
8 Fellows/O´Connell/Pruett (Chevrolet) - 43 laps
9 Perrier/Neugarten/Smith (Porsche) - 46 laps
10 Chereau/Dumez/Goueslard (Porsche) - 47 laps

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