After its fourth race, the Audi R10 TDI remains unbeaten: The prototype which became the first diesel-powered sportscar to win the Le Mans 24 Hour race, added another victory in the sixth round of the American Le Mans Series in Portland (US state Oregon). In the third race for the Audi R10 TDI in the US, Dindo Capello (Italy) and Allan McNish (Scotland) triumphed ahead of their team-mates Frank Biela (Germany) and Emanuele Pirro (Italy) to score the first double victory of the Audi R10 TDI.
The two Audi sportscars started the race from the second and third rows. After a late change of regulations in which the organisers allowed the strongest competitor in the LM P1 class, the Dyson-Lola team, to reduce the weight of the car by 40kg to 860kg, the Audi drivers Dindo Capello and Emanuele Pirro had to be content in qualifying with positions three and five respectively. Because the weight reduction change had not been made giving the mandatory 14-day notification, organisers IMSA and the Dyson team agreed a compromise. The two Lola sportscars started the race with a minimum weight of 880kg.
At the start of the race staged on the 12-turn, 1.944-mile track featuring few overtaking opportunities, Emanuele Pirro was second behind Guy Smith in the Dyson-Lola. Dindo Capello followed in fourth after a delay at the first corner behind the “pole-sitter Butch Leitzinger (Dyson-Lola). When the leading teams pitted during a yellow after 45 minutes for “full service including driver change, fuel and tyres, Frank Biela took over the #1 Audi R10 TDI and snatched the lead at the re-start on lap 54 with Allan McNish, now at the wheel of the #2 Audi, in second. Moments later Allan McNish took the lead from Biela. After 142-laps, the two R10 TDI sportscars claimed the first Audi diesel 1-2 victory.
After the successes of Allan McNish/Dindo Capello in 2000, JJ Lehto/Marco Werner (2004) and Frank Biela/Emanuele Pirro (2005) in the Audi R8, this is the fourth triumph for Audi at Portland. After the fourth win of the season, the Audi drivers Allan McNish and Dindo Capello extended their lead in the championship before the seventh race of the American Le Mans Series at Road America (20 August).
Quotes after the race at Portland
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): “I am happy for the whole team that managed to get the first double victory for the Audi R10 TDI. Especially I am glad that the drivers of car #2 who were able to extend their American Le Mans Series championship lead. Thanks to all of the team for their good work. Today our competitors were confronted with problems. The spectators saw an exciting race. In the actual discussion about the regulations we tried to find a compromise with Dyson and IMSA. I think the fastest race lap of the Dyson-Lola showed that they are absolutely competitive.
Dindo Capello (Audi R10 TDI #2): “Unfortunately I was hit at the first corner and from that moment I really found the Audi difficult to drive especially in the right hand corners. The full course yellow came at a good moment because the grip from the left rear tyre had gone completely the car was almost undriveable. But with new tyres Allan was able to race hard. Its very nice to win again after the bad luck we had at Salt Lake City this win is just beautiful.
Allan McNish (Audi R10 TDI #2): “The car was tricky to drive the hit that Dindo received on the opening lap affected the balance quite a lot. But as soon as I got into the lead at the re-start I controlled the gap with Frank. When it was required, I was able to press on a little more but I could take things quite consistently through traffic. Im obviously pleased and proud that weve pulled out a victory from what looked like being a hard weekend for us.
Frank Biela (Audi R10 TDI #1): “It was a good race, it was a lot of fun. But you cannot win all the time. Unfortunately I got stuck behind a GT Porsche, otherwise the race could have been more open until the end. The R10 TDI was very good and I am happy that we brought home a good result for Audi.
Emanuele Pirro (Audi R10 TDI #1): “It has been a really good race for us. We were not very fast in practice, qualifying or the warm-up. We changed the setup of the car for the race and it was better. Frank got in and secured second place for us. I am happy. A one-two for Audi is very good for the championship.
Dave Maraj (Team Director Team Audi Sport North America): “It was a fabulous race and I am tremendously proud to have achieved two victories for Audi Sport North America in the space of one week with the new Audi R10 TDI. To celebrate this 1-2 result today in only our second race with the R10 TDI which we are still getting used to, is a fantastic feat due to the dedication and professionalism of all of our team everyone was at the top of their game today.
Results at Portland
1 Capello/McNish (Audi R10 TDI) 142 laps in 2h 45m 08.847s