Audi came out on top in its first confrontation of the season with Peugeot. The new Audi R15 plus dominated the Paul Ricard 8 Hours on its debut in the hands of Allan McNish and Rinaldo Capello. They won the opening round of the Le Mans Series by five laps, while the sole Peugeot 908 – the works-backed ORECA car – was fourth after losing nine laps when the rear air-jack system failed.
Audi and the works Joest team billed its assault on the Ricard race as a “test in race conditions” with the new R15, which was not ready in time to contest the Sebring 12 Hours in March. Joest technical director Ralf Juttner said after the win that the “fundamentals seem good, but we’re taking away a long list of things to work on”.
The Audi versus Peugeot battle resumes at the Spa 1000Kms on May 9. Both manufacturers are due to field three cars in what they are treating as a dress rehearsal for the Le Mans 24 Hours.