History » Joest at Le Mans

Le Mans 1985

Joest and Le Mans: A special kind of love

It is no secret that Reinhold Joest has a weak spot for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Joest Racing is the most successful Le Mans team ever with 15th wins since 1984.

Whoever knows the world’s toughest car race for both man and machine, also knows the Joest Racing Team. With no less than 15 overall victories, including two one-two finishes and five times occupying every step on the podium, Joest made has made a name for himself in Le Mans. That Joest Racing even managed to leave the Porsche works team trailing in its wake on more than one occasion during the Porsche era, also went down in the history books. 

Joest Racing won the 24 Hours of Le Mans four times as Porsche customer team. Reinhold Joest achieved back-to-back victories in 1984/1985 and 1996/1997. In 1994 Joest Racing supported Porsche and Dauer Racing to win the French classic.

When Audi decided to compete at Le Mans, Joest Racing was the first port of call for the marque with the four rings. The success speaks for itself: At Audi’s Le Mans debut in 1999 a podium finish was achieved first time out. Audi Sport Team Joest won Le Mans three times in succession with the R8 in 2000, 2001 and 2002. And even this was not enough: There was not a single retirement; every car that started left every other competitor gasping behind. 

Following the historical hat-trick during the 2002 season, Audi decided not to compete as factory team in Le Mans with the R8, but to leave the racing to the customer teams. Reinhold Joest was a reluctant spectator at Le Mans in 2003. However, his team, under the control of Technical Director Ralf Jüttner, supported the successful Bentley project in Le Mans. 

In 2004, Ralf Jüttner supported Audi Sport Japan Team Goh, which secured a further Le Mans victory for Audi. Furthermore, Reinhold Joest was presented with the “Spirit of Le Mans” prize by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO). 

The wish of Reinhold Joest to return to sportscar racing and Le Mans came true in 2006 - and this with a very special project: the Audi R10 TDI, the first diesel sportscar with the chance to fight for the overall victory at Le Mans and which achieved this goal at the first atempt. In 2007 and 2008, Audi Sport Team Joest repeated the victory with Audi TDI Power in thrilling races. In 2008 Joest Racing also wins in the Le Mans Series with Alexandre Prémat and Mike Rockenfeller. In 2009 Audi switched to the R15 TDI. With a revised version of the car the Audi Sport Team Joest achieved in 2010 his fourth 1-2-3 victory at Le Mans.

in 2011 at one of the most thrilling and dramatic 24-hour races in Le Mans history Joest Racing clinched its 12th triumph. At the fascinating thriller which kept 250,000 spectators at the race track watched in awe Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoît Tréluyer in the Audi R18 TDI fighting by themselves against three Peugeot after the two sister cars retired due to heavy crashes.

In June 2012 at the 80th edition of the 24-hour classic at Le Mans Audi and Joest again wrote motorsport history: With the Audi R18 e-tron quattro driven by André Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fässler for the first time a hybrid vehicle won at the Sarthe. Its sister car of car Dindo Capello, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish completed the 1-2 victory after a close fight with the winners during the race. Audi Sport Team Joest’s both diesel powered Audi R18 ultra occupied places three and five.

In 2013, the Le Mans 24 Hours celebrated their 90th anniversary – and Joest Racing its 14th victory at this classic event. Two factors shaped the race: unsteady weather and a large number of safety car deployments.  “You never knew what the deal was,” said Ralf Jüttner, the Technical Director of Joest Racing, summing up the race. Equally notable: The two cars finishing at the front made it through the marathon without any incidents and with no technical problems whatsoever. Accordingly, the victory of the Audi R18 e-tron quattro driven by Loic Duval, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish was achieved with a narrow margin: Their advantage over the quickest Toyota was only one lap. With the two sister cars Audi Sport Team Joest took positions three and five.

Energy efficiency was the focus of attention at Le Mans in 2014. Speed and reliability, however, still remain key factors in Joest’s 15th Le Mans victory. 263,300 spectators at track side followed the race winning drive by Lotterer/Tréluyer/Fässler in the Audi R18 e-tron quattro. The sister car with start number 1 was second. In addition to Tom Kristensen and Lucas di Grassi, Marc Gené raced as substitute for Loïc Duval who survived a violent practice accident with minor injuries. Audi Sport Team Joest rebuilt the destroyed Audi overnight from Wednesday to Thursday. After a furious opening phase on the rain soaked track, the third Audi with Filipe Albuquerque, Marco Bonanomi and Oliver Jarvis was caught up in another competitor’s accident and badly damaged. The trio’s race was therefore over in the second hour.

The Joest Racing Le Mans victories: 
1984 Porsche 956 (#7) Ludwig/Pescarolo
1985 Porsche 956 (#7) Ludwig/“Winter”/Barilla
1996 TWR Porsche WSC95 (#7) Reuter/Jones/Wurz
1997 TWR Porsche WSC95 (#7) Alboreto/Johansson/Kristensen
2000 Audi R8 (#8) Biela/Kristensen/Pirro
2001 Audi R8 (#1) Biela/Kristensen/Pirro
2002 Audi R8 (#1) Biela/Kristensen/Pirro
2006 Audi R10 TDI (#8) Biela/Pirro/Werner
2007 Audi R10 TDI (#1) Biela/Pirro/Werner
2008 Audi R10 TDI (#2) Capello/Kristensen/McNish
2010 Audi R15 TDI (#9) Bernhard/Dumas/Rockenfeller
2011 Audi R18 TDI (#2) Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer
2012 Audi R18 e-tron quattro (#1) Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer
2013 Audi R18 e-tron quattro (#2) Duval/Kristensen/McNish
2014 Audi R18 e-tron quattro (#2) Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer