2006 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans: fuelling ambitions. After supplying R8 prototypes to partner teams in 2003, 2004 and 2005, Audi made their official comeback in 2006 with the new R10 TDI and the clear intention of being the first constructor to win with a diesel-powered car. Mission accomplished! Emanuele Pirro and Frank Biela claimed their fourth outright victory (after winning with Tom Kristensen in 2000, 2001 and 2002) while their teammate Marco Werner celebrated his first title as an Audi works driver. Kristensen, who had won the six previous editions, finished third with Dindo Capello and Allan McNish. Sandwiched between the two Audi teams was Sébastien Loeb – twice world rally champion at the time – who had teamed up with Franck Montagny and Eric Helary for Pescarolo Sport for a shot at the Le Mans title. The GT1 class-winning Corvette recorded its best overall result with Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta and Jan Magnussen finishing in fourth place.
2006 in motorsport and beyond. Le Mans runner-up Sébastien Loeb took his third world rally crown... while sat at home with a fractured shoulder following a mountain biking accident. He had accumulated such a huge point lead over Finn Marcus Grönholm that he was able to retain his title without competing. In the United States, Le Mans-born driver Sébastien Bourdais also clinched his third consecutive title in the Champ Car open-wheel series. He made his Le Mans comeback the following year in the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP. In Formula One, Fernando Alonso picked up his second world title with Renault, while Michael Schumacher announced his retirement following his 90th Grand Prix win at Monza. In February 2006, the seven-time world champion also appeared in his Ferrari at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics held in Turin, the home of Ferrari-owners Fiat. Meanwhile, Italy defeated France in soccer’s World Cup final and the Pittsburgh Steelers fought off the Seattle Seahawks 21-10 to take the 40th Super Bowl.
The 84th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans will take place on Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 June 2016. Tickets will be on sale to ACO members from Tuesday 3 November before going on general sale on Friday 6 November 2015.
Jean-Philippe Doret / ACO
Translated from French by David Goward
Photo: LE MANS (SARTHE, FRANCE), CIRCUIT DES 24 HEURES, 24 HOURS OF LE MANS, SUNDAY 18 JUNE 2006, FINISH. Emanuele Pirro (pictured here at the wheel), Frank Biela, Marco Werner and the Audi R10 TDI were to retain their title in 2007.