24h Le Mans
10/01/2020 - 11:01

Remember when a crocodile claimed an Endurance victory in 2000?

As the Asian Le Mans Series makes its Australian début with the 4 Hours of The Bend this Sunday, 12 January, we take a look back at a special event held in Adelaide on 31 December 2000, the Race of a Thousand Years. It was won by an Audi R8 sporting a unique crocodile livery! Former head of Audi Sport, Dr Wolfgang Ullrich tells the story of this unusual livery, designed specially for a race on the other side of the planet, at the very end of the 20th century.
Remember when a crocodile claimed an Endurance victory in 2000?

The miniature version of the car is one of the most sought-after by collectors, even though Audi entered an array of racing cars during its endurance campaign, which ran from 1999 to 2016, including the R8C, R8R, R8, R10 TDI, R15 TDI, R15 +TDI, R18 TDI, R18 e-tron quattro and the R18, with many different liveries. Those prototypes claimed at total 13 wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the German manufacturer, led by Dr Wolfgang Ullrich. The Austrian remembers when the Audi R8 Crocodile triumphed on 31 December in Adelaide.

“For this special race in Australia, run on the last day of 2000, – actually the last day of the 20th century – our design team suggested a unique livery for one of the two cars we entered. A Crocodile design! It was a great idea, although we still had to convince our usual partners to agree to the idea. When we arrived in the paddock in Adelaide, some of our competitors were wearing traditional ‘Crocodile Dundee’ hats. They wanted to tame the crocodile! It was funny, there was a relaxed atmosphere across the city. People everywhere we talking about the race, about the celebrations. The buses featured the directions to Le Mans! Endurance racing was on everyone’s lips. And we won, with our Crocodile!”

In fact, with Alan McNish and Dindo Capello at the wheel, the Crocodile set off from pole and achieved the fastest race lap, before taking the win. 

In 2020, the Asian Le Mans Series marks the return of Endurance racing to Australia: this Sunday, 12 January, competitors in the ACO series will line up for the 4 Hours of The Bend. 

24 Hours of Le Mans Ticketing 2020 - €89