Audi wins again and increases championship lead
With the fourth consecutive victory, Audi puts up a new record in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) and increases its lead in the manufacturers' championship to eleven points. Rinaldo Capello and Allan McNish won round eight of the ALMS at Portland International Raceway just ahead of Panoz and BMW. Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro in the other Audi R8 made it to fourth place and so also collected further points for the drivers championship.
Pole sitter Rinaldo Capello took the lead right from the start, but then got caught by a slower GT car. As he tried to pass he damaged the front body work of his Audi R8 and dropped to eighth position while teammate Emanuele Pirro took over the lead. But not for long, the first pit stop changed positions again: The number 78 car made the regular stop under green with a caution period to come only one minute later. The competitors lost less time and as a result Emanuele Pirro found himself in seventh place while Allan McNish took over the car from Rinaldo Capello after 45 minutes, regaining the lead again to take the win.
Audi dominated the entire weekend in Oregon. The four works drivers set fastest times during all sessions of the weekend including the two test sessions on Friday, achieved pole position and fastest race lap.
Quotes after the race
Rinaldo Capello (#77): "When I caught up to the GT car I almost spun because there was some oil on the track. To be honest at that moment I thought our race was already gone. But due to a very good pit stop and a lot of luck we went up to first position again. This is racing: We lost Texas when it was already won and now we won this race although it seemed to be already lost."
Allan McNish (#77): "This race was won by the team rather than by the drivers. Dindo made an excellent start but got caught with a slower car. That put us quite a bit down but the team did a great job and put on a very good strategy. And of course Michelin gave us really good tires. I think this all together was the recipe for our victory today."
Frank Biela (#78): "The first 30 to 40 laps went perfectly for us, we were leading comfortably. Unfortunately we had to refuel under green, on such a short track you loose a lap easily. All the other cars were lucky because they could come in only one lap later under a yellow flag and did not loose as much time as we did. After that we had no chance. For the next race at Road Atlanta I hope luck will be on our side. Road Atlanta is a 10-hour-race, we can gain five extra points, this will be a key race in the drivers championship for us."
Emanuele Pirro (# 78): "I'm really disappointed, we did a good job throughout the whole weekend and we were leading the race very comfortably. There had been no mistakes at all by the team, just incredible bad luck with the pace car. We lost an entire lap plus the advantage that we had to the second car. It's quite hard to accept, because this was really our race."
Reinhold Joest, Team Director Audi Sport North America: "The start here at Portland is very risky, after the first chicane I could relax a little bit. Everything was going well until Dindos accident. At that point Emanuele had a 30 second lead, but racing is unpredictable, things can happen quickly like the pace car just a lap after our pit stop. It's a remarkable achievement that the number 78 car was able to move up from seventh and finish fourth. The competition here in Portland was closer than ever, Dindo and Allan are to be complimented for their victory."