Audi sees off Peugeot challenge at Le Mans

Audi Sport North America fought off a strong challenge from Peugeot Sport to win Audi's eighth win in nine years with Tom Kristenson winning his eighth Le Mans victory, Rinaldo Capello his third and Allan McNish his second. Second and third places went to Peugeot with Marc Gene, Nicolas Minassian and Jacques Villeneuve as runners-up on the same lap as the winning car and Franck Montagny, Ricardo Zonta and Christian Klien third two laps down.

The Peugeots led the early part of the race but rain in the middle of the night turned the tables and Audi went ahead and stayed ahead despite tricky conditions with a damp track for most of the morning. The track dried and Peugeot came charging back and closed to within two minutes of the leader and then rain returned with an hour to go. The team gambled on tyres, hoping that the weather would turn in their favour, but the gamble did not pay off. It was a bitter blow for Jacques Villeneuve, who was trying to win Le Mans to become only the second man to win "The Triple Crown" - the F1 World Championship, the Indianapolis 500 and Le Mans.

The LMP2 class was won by the Porsche RS Spyder of Jeroen Bleekemolen, Peter van Merksteijn and Jos Verstappen, while LMGT1 went to the Gulf Aston Martin of David Brabham, Darren Turner and Antonio Garcia, beating the Corvette Racing challenge.

Victory in LMGT2 was also won by a former F1 man with Mika Salo, Jaime Melo and Gimmi Bruni in the Risi Competizione Ferrari 430 Berlinetta GT.

The race also marked the first Chinese driver to appear at Le Mans and Franky Cheng finished third in the LMP2 class with a Saulnier Racing run Pescarolo which he shared with Matthieu Lahaye and Pierre Ragues.

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