Tough Task for Audi at Road America
On 20 August, the Audi Sport squad is busy on “two fronts once again: While the second-half of the DTM season starts at the Nürburgring, the American Le Mans Series at Road America (USA) already enters its crucial phase at the seventh round of the ten race championship. Dindo Capello and Allan McNish have a 39-point lead before the race in Wisconsin. The two Audi drivers could actually make a decisive early step towards clinching the title there.
However, this will be tough challenge: The American Le Mans Series organisers are attempting to stop the revolutionary Audi R10 TDI prototypes winning streak by making the competition even more new concessions. At Road America the LM P1 Lolas entered by the Dyson team can race with 65 kilograms less than the Audi R10 TDI. Furthermore, from the following race at Mosport, the Dyson Lolas will be granted a five-litre larger fuel tank. Thats why Audis further participation in the American Le Mans Series is under discussion.
The Audi Sport engineers have calculated with computer simulation that ten kilograms at Road America is worth at least two-tenths-of-a-second per lap. Despite being deeply disappointed about the random decisions of the IMSA organisation, the Audi Sport North America team would nevertheless like do everything in its power to achieve a good result also at Road America. The layout of the 4.048-mile circuit approximately 60 miles north of Milwaukee should suit the R10 TDI. It is one of the most fluid and fastest on the calendar.
The predecessor of the R10 TDI, the R8, was in a class of its own at Road America and remained unbeaten at every race there between 2002 and 2005. Last years winners Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro are only two-points behind third placed driver Andy Wallace (Dyson Lola) in the overall standings despite having sat out three races. Dindo Capello won in 2002 at Road America, while the circuit in Wisconsin is new territory for Allan McNish. The race starts at on Sunday, 20 August at 2:00 p.m. local time (9:00 p.m. in Germany) and runs over the classic distance of 2:45 hours.
Quotes before the race at Road America
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): “To us, the recent regulation changes made by IMSA appear to have been made at random and are unjustified. A year ago hardly anybody could believe that it would be possible to win a race with a diesel powered sportscar. We demonstrated that it is feasible, and thanks to Vorsprung durch Technik we produced the worlds most state-of-the-art LM P1. We can not accept that our life will now be made artificially difficult. Audi, the manufacturer, which has supported and promoted the ALMS for years and helped to make it what it is today, will only continue its American Le Mans Series programme if there are again stable and consistent rules, like at Le Mans, which also contribute towards justifying manufacturer’s involvement and expenditure.
Frank Biela (Audi R10 TDI #1): “Road America is a fantastic circuit, which Im really looking forward to. Emanuele (Pirro) and I had a superb race there last year. It goes without saying that after such a victory you return with a special feeling. The track is a lot of fun to drive, is relatively quick and flowing, which should actually suit our Audi R10 TDI. We can also demonstrate TDI Power on the long straights.
Emanuele Pirro (Audi R10 TDI #1): “Road America is a beautiful circuit that should allow the R10 TDI to shine. Thats why Im optimistic for the race. Its clear that we are competing to help Dindo (Capello) and Allan (McNish) in their fight for the title. We nevertheless want to make a strong showing as we did at Salt Lake City and Portland and obviously win if possible.
Dindo Capello (Audi R10 TDI #2): “Road America is one of the best circuits on the American Le Mans Series calendar. Ive only driven there once, but won first time out together with Tom (Kristensen) in 2002 and have fond memories as a consequence. This time around Allan (McNish) and I must drive with one eye on the championship, which means we cannot afford a non-finish and want to score as many points as possible to protect our lead. We might even then have the chance of wrapping up the title early at one of the following races.
Allan McNish (Audi R10 TDI #2): “Ive still havent raced at Road America. Thats why I spoke to Nigel (Mansell) who described Road America as a real drivers circuit, which should suit me. I also got a few tips from Dario Franchitti. The flowing circuit should suit the R10 TDI, however, the LM P2 Porsche and the Dyson Lolas, also favoured by the regulations, are getting stronger and stronger, thats why Im expecting another dog fight.
Dave Maraj (Team Director Team Audi Sport North America): “I look forward to going to Road America; its one of my favorite race tracks. The R10 TDI will enjoy stretching its legs on this circuit. One thing is for sure, we all hope to race in cooler temperatures this weekend.
The schedule at Road America
Friday, 18 August
Saturday, 19 August
Sunday, 20 August
Live timing and scoring and circuit commentary at: www.americanlemans.com