Audi 1-2 Victory in ALMS Finale
Audi was able to complete their successful 2008 sportscar season with another 1-2 victory. In the finale of the American Le Mans Series at Laguna Seca (U.S. state of California), the two Germans Lucas Luhr and Marco Werner celebrated a narrow victory in front of their team mates Christijan Albers and Emanuele Pirro.
The Audi R10 TDI thus remained undefeated on the track at Laguna Seca that has traditionally favoured the lighter LM P2 sportscars in the corresponding race for the past three years. In 2006 and 2007, Dindo Capello and Allan McNish had won there.
This year's race was one of the most unusual ones of the season. The Safety Car was deployed no less than twelve times – the most occasions all season. During 46 of the 145 laps overtaking was thus not allowed.
Team Audi Sport North America dealt well with the difficult circumstances. Starting from row five of the grid, the Audi drivers were able to take advantage from the enormous torque of their TDI engine mainly at the restarts improving position by position.
Lucas Luhr needed only 37 laps to fight his way from 10th on the grid to first place. Because he had to pit for fuel under green, Lucas Luhr and Marco Werner lost a lap and dropped temporarily to 12th position.
This seemed to play the race into the hands of sportscar rookie Christijan Albers and Emanuele Pirro. Pirro took the lead on lap 89 with a spectacular move and defended it until the final caution period.
At the decisve restart, however, he was passed by his team mate Marco Werner who in the meantime had fought his way back to the front thus taking the lead just 20 minutes from the end of the race. Werner crossed the finish line the eventual winner 1.941 seconds ahead of Emanuele Pirro who had tears in eyes following his last race in the Audi R10 TDI.
It was the seventh outright victory for Audi in the eleven-round American Le Mans Series. Acura/Honda and Porsche each scored two victories. Lucas Luhr and Marco Werner celebrated their eighth win of the season in the LM P1 class. The two Germans had already secured the title in the LM P1 Drivers Championship.
Emanuele Pirro finished third in the Championship. Christijan Albers finished his first sportscar race on the podium.
Quotes after the race at Laguna Seca
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "This was a great finale with a superb victory for Audi at the end of a very good season. This season we certainly have not always been the fastest ones in qualifying. But with hard work, a very good strategy, a great squad and a really good race pace weve always been able to turn things around to us. The races in this year's American Le Mans Series have been very exciting until the very end. We've seen motorsport at its best in all the races."
Lucas Luhr (Audi R10 TDI #2): "This was a great race! At the beginning my only chance were at the restarts. And I used each of them to my advantage. Marco (Werner) did the same as me in the end. The last restart, when he was able to pass Emanuele (Pirro), was really something special. I am more than happy. Thanks to all in the team!"
Marco Werner (Audi R10 TDI #2): "This was a great day for us. Lucas (Luhr) did a superb job in the beginning. He worked his way from tenth to first position. We lost a lap but came back on the lead-lap thanks to Audi and the Champion team. In the end it was up to me. I really pushed and tried to keep the tyres clean during the caution periods."
Christijan Albers (Audi R10 TDI #1): "It was really good. I was a little bit on the safe side which in the end paid off. It was my first race with the R10 TDI and I did not want to do anything wrong. Pirro did a very good job at the end. I'm very happy for the team. It is a great result."
Emanuele Pirro (Audi R10 TDI #1): "I really enjoyed the race. From ninth and tenth on the grid we finished 1-2. Unfortunately I was in second gear at the last restart instead of first. After so many good restarts in my career I was sleeping this time. But all in all it has been a positive race. I want to thank Christijan (Albers) who did a very good job in his first sportscar race. And I really want to thank all the people who said a lot of very nice things about me here."
Dave Maraj (Team Director Audi Sport North America): "This was a great way to end the season and a great way for Emanuele (Pirro) to end his season. It was great team work again by both teams with a great strategy. Coming from ninth to tenth on the grid and taking a 1-2 victory is something special. It was a great year, one of the best I ever experienced. I want to thank everybody on our team for this."
The results at Laguna Seca
1 Luhr/Werner (Audi R10 TDI) 145 laps in 4h 01m 05.315s (1st in LM P1) 2 Albers/Pirro (Audi R10 TDI) + 1.941s (2nd in LM P1) 3 Montagny/Kanaan (Acura/Honda) + 3.536s 4 de Ferran/Pagenaud (Acura/Honda) + 3.590s 5 Dumas/Bernhard (Porsche) + 9.481s 6 Castroneves/Briscoe (Porsche) + 26.178s 7 Smith/Dyson (Porsche) + 45.278s 8 Franchitti/Leitzinger (Porsche) + 1m 18.045s 9 Fernandez/Diaz (Acura/Honda) - 1 lap 10 Maassen/Long (Porsche) - 1 lap