For the second year in a row Audi won the Le Mans 24 hours and the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) with the R8 in 2001. The 2001 R8 was a development of the R8 used in the 2000 season and only has some minor modifications. Even though Audi scored many victories it was also struck by tragedy as driver Michele Alboreto had a fatal accident while testing the R8 on the Lausitzring. The vice F1 champion of 1985 had won his last race just a couple of weeks before the crash, the 12 hours of Sebring with an R8. The crash was caused by a puncture.
For the Le Mans 24 hours race two factory R8s and two private R8s were entered. The private teams were the Johansson team with an R8 painted in the classic Gulf livery the second car was entered by the Champion team. Both private teams had difficult opening hours on the wet and slippery track and lost time because of accidents and spins. Electronic problems ended the race for team Johansson in the third hour and a clutch problem forced the Champion car out of the race in the 6th hour. The two factory cars had taken a firm lead and passed the finish line in first and second, with the #1 car finishing first. The exact same drive pairing of Biela, Kristensen and Pirro won the 2001 event as well.
The R8 was chosen as 'Sportscar of the year 2001'. Audi was back at Le Mans in 2002 and secured their third victory.