Audi and Peugeot set for Petit Le Mans attack
There is something special about sporting rivalries and there are few rivalries more special and intense than Audi vs. Peugeot.
Perhaps it is familiarity or grudging respect. Maybe it is a distilling of a competition down to two well-matched competitors.
Whatever the reason, one of the best motorsports rivalries in recent years has pitted Audi versus Peugeot in a factory backed battle for sports cars supremacy at Le Mans, and here at Road Atlanta’s Petit Le Mans.
While both moved aggressively in recent years to showcase diesel technology at Le Mans, each chose its own path. Peugeot went with a turbocharged V12 diesel and enclosed cockpit coupe, while Audi retained its more traditional open cockpit design for its 10 cylinder twin-turbo weapon.
Audi struck first, entering and winning at Le Mans in 2006 with the Audi R10 TDI, then using that experience to prevail in 2007 and again in a challenging wet and dry 2008 race against a speedy Peugeot.
Peugeot scored breakthrough wins in 2009 with its Peugeot 908 HDi FAP at Le Mans and in the rain shorted Petit Le Mans.
Audi responded with an updated design, the Audi R15 TDI plus, and claimed victory at Le Mans this June after Peugeot, which dominated the first half of the race, suddenly was plagued by a stunning series of engine failures.
“To be the best, you must beat the best” is the old sporting maxim and it is certainly true at Le Mans and for Petit Le Mans.
There are no moral victories here.
You will not hear an Audi or Peugeot person mumbling phrases like, “we had a top-ten car today” or “we were looking after the points.”
Each team has highly experienced team leaders, a squadron of engineers, and a roster of premiere drivers.
Tom Kristensen, Allan McNish and Rinaldo (Dindo) Capello lead the Audi squad. If those names sound familiar they should.
Kristensen is the only eight-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
McNish and Capello hold a pair of victories together with ALMS championships, and victories at Petit Le Mans in 2007 and 2008.
Rising stars Marcel Fassler, Benoit Treluyer and Andre Lotterer will drive the second Audi.
Peugeot will counter with a roster that includes: Marc Gene, Anthony Davidson and Alex Wurz, plus Pedro Lamy, Franck Montagny, and Stephane Sarrazin.
This is competition in its purist, simplest form. You win or you lose. It is that simple, and that complex.
This story appears in the Petit Le Mans issue of The Alley, Michelin’s trackside publication. It’s also in the “The Alley: In Print” section of michelinracingusa.com