Fifth Victory for the Audi R10 TDI
The Audi R10 TDI remains unbeaten: Frank Biela (Germany) and Emanuele Pirro (Italy) celebrated together with their team-mates Dindo Capello (Italy) and Allan McNish (Scotland) a double victory in the fifth race of Audis new diesel sportscar. In the seventh round of the American Le Mans Series at Road America (US state of Wisconsin) Biela and Pirro clinched their third victory of the season including the Le Mans 24 Hours by a margin of just 0.4 seconds.
The long distance race over 2.45 hours did not start well for the German-Italian duo: Starting driver Frank Biela, who went into the race from second position on the grid, was touched at the first corner by a rival and pushed into the gravel trap. Biela rejoined the track but pitted for new tyres due to a vibration dropping to the back of the field. From the very last position, Biela started a charge which brought him and his team-mate Emanuele Pirro to second place behind the second Audi R10 TDI of Dindo Capello and Allan McNish before the final phase of the race.
Allan McNish, who had clinched pole-position with a lap time of 1,49.181 minutes breaking the ALMS track record on the 4.048 miles track north of Milwaukee was also hit on the opening lap but did not lose time. After 32 laps, he handed over the leading Audi R10 TDI to his co-driver Dindo Capello. The Italian stayed in front until a pace par phase in the final half hour of the race. At the re-start team-mate Emanuele Pirro just eased ahead. After 76 laps the two Audi R10 TDI sports-prototypes celebrated a second successive 1-2 success following the Portland double victory in July.
Round eight of the 10-race American Le Mans Series is staged in two weeks at Mosport (3 September) with Dindo Capello and Allan McNish heading for Canada as championship leaders.
Quotes after the race at Road America
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): “This was a really exciting race with an incredibly tight finish. As expected the track at Road America suited our R10 TDI very well. Despite this we had to fight hard for the victory because the caution periods cost us the advantage we gained over and over again. The lighter Dyson-Lolas today came very close to us, sometimes even too close. Congratulations to the team who did a great job and had a good strategy.
Frank Biela (Audi R10 TDI #1): “I am very happy. It was a good race, very good for the spectators. But it didnt look good at the beginning. In turn 1 James Weaver pushed me off and I rejoined the track as the last car. I had a big vibration and had to pit for new tyres. Then the team did a very good job and the strategy worked well. Emanuele took the car on fresh tyres and drove a fantastic race to the finish.
Emanuele Pirro (Audi R10 TDI #1): “It was one of the best races of my life. After the accident at the start we were one lap down. But with a little bit of luck we got back the lap. Later I could come close to Dindo but I could not pass him. When the right moment came at the re-start I tried everything that I have learned in my career, I put a lot of pressure on Dindo and it worked. I am absolutely delighted.
Dindo Capello (Audi R10 TDI #2): “I had a great fight with Emanuele in the closing stages after the re-start. My Audi was very good and I was in control but then the pace car came out. I was very careful at the re-start because the officials always look at this very carefully and my team radioed to remind me to maintain the speed of the pace car when it pulled in and not to accelerate until the green flag was waved. I lost a little momentum allowing Emanuele to slip ahead. I then had to think about the championship and not take a big risk.
Allan McNish (Audi R10 TDI #2): “Obviously we would have liked to have won but in terms of the championship it was a good result and were in a strong position with three races to run. The race featured a lot of full course yellow safety periods and just like at Salt Lake City when we were leading that race with 20minutes remaining, the final caution cost us a certain victory which is a little frustrating but its good to have scored another Audi 1-2. At the start of the race I survived a hit from James Weaver who also hit me again coming down the pit-lane which caused slight damage.
Dave Maraj (Team Director Team Audi Sport North America): “It was an incredible race. For Frank and Emanuele to win having dropped to the back of the field after the first corner incident with the Dyson Lola is amazing. They drove very well but also the team played a big part in this victory with a good race strategy when things had looked grim. Allan and Dindo have also extended their championship lead. With all the discussions about the advantage of the Audi R10 TDI, it is interesting that the Dyson Lola finished less than a second behind the winning Audi on a circuit that suits the R10 TDI perfectly.
Results at Road America
1 Biela/Pirro (Audi R10 TDI) 76 laps in 2h 45m 32.115s