||June 14-16, 2002
||Lauri Ouvinen, Matti Ouvinen and Ville Tikkaoja
Running 24 hours and competing against others Le Mans surely is one of the toughest races
for both the cars and drivers. Come the 4 o'clock on Sunday afternoon some still have
their cars running, others don't. This year saw the 70th anniversary of this one of the
most famous motor racing events in the world. It also produced a historic result.
For the previous two years Le Mans had been all about Audi, whose LMP900 class R8 prototype
had been absolutely dominant against the opposition. In 2000 they took a clean sweep of
podium and last year a one-two after only running two cars. This year Audi was back with
three cars and was again the clear favourite for the race. Should something happen
for one of its cars the others would surely still be up there to keep the marque on top of
the results. Winning drivers from the past two years - Frank Biela, Tom Kristensen and
Emmanuele Pirro - were again united in the number one Audi and were out to pursuit a
As predicted, Audi did not disappoint with its performance this year either and produced
a 1-2-3 finish. #1 car of Biela/Kristensen/Pirro took the historic record for winning the
event three times in a row with the same manufacturer for the first time, which really has
to be admired. Even though they had the best car it's not easy thing to be at the top after
24 hours. Compared to other Audis they didn't encounter any big problems. However, so was
the performance advantage that the sister cars also managed to keep ahead of everyone else.
The sole LMPGTP class Bentley finished fourth after the Audis. Owned by the parent
Volkswagen company one has to wonder if they are going to concentrate more on Bentley now
that Audi is likely to pull off and Bentley is to run more cars next year. The LMP675 class
was predicted to be clear case for the MGs. However, after they had their problems and
retired the Noel del Bello Racing Reynard-Lehmann 2KQ got the victory. In GTS the
Prodrive-ran Ferrari 550 Maranello was the fastest until it caught into flames on the
Mulsanne in the early Sunday morning and handed the win for Corvettes. The Racer's Club
Porsche took the GT honours.
Compared to last year's heavy rain the event was this year ran in brilliant weather with
temperatures rising over 30 degrees celcius. This more or less affected on number of
spectators to gather to the area. The festival feeling at Le Mans is something else
compared to other motor racing events. A lot of motor racing and car enthusiasts,
especially Brits, come to the event with their sports cars. A lot of people are camping
besides the circuit. The place also has plenty of other facilities such as number of bars
and an amusement park.
The photos below have been again taken from various places around the circuit and hopefully
give you some view of the event. But let's cut it short and let you see them...