It's twenty years since Audi's first 24 Hours of Le Mans win
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It's twenty years since Audi's first 24 Hours of Le Mans win

On 18 June 2000, Audi won the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the first time, thanks to the #8 Audi R8 and crew Tom Kristensen, Frank Biela and Emmanuele Pirro.

Victory came following a promising maiden outing in 1999 which saw the German carmarker go home with third and fourth place overall. In the meantime, the R8 was completely rehauled – the closed cockpit of the R8C and R8R dropped. The new R8 and its 610hp V8 engine sported its revised aerodynamics at the 12 Hours of Sebring in mid March, resulting in a one-two finish. To lead the driver crews, Audi had hired Tom Kristensen, previously with BMW, and Allan McNish, winner of the 1998 24 Hours of Le Mans with Porsche and Toyota driver in 1999. As in 1999, the car was prepared by Reinhold Joest, winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1984,1985, 1996 and 1997. The #7 was crewed by Michele Alboreto, Rinaldo Capello and Christian Abt. Kristensen/Biela/Pirro took the wheel of the #8 with Stéphane Ortelli, Allan McNish and Laurent Aiello sharing the #9.

Despite gearbox replacements for the #9 and #7 (changed in just 7 minutes), firm favourite Audi lived up to expectations and not only won the 24 Hours of Le Mans at the second attempt, but did so with a one-two-three flourish. The #8 crossed the line first, with the #9 a lap behind in second and the #7 rounding off the podium. The Audi era had well and truly begun. The German marque reigned supreme at Le Mans until 2016, with 13 wins in all, five of which with the R8.

See also: Bringing the Museum to you - the #1 Audi R8 from 2002.