Audi clinches Championship titles in America
Audi have prematurely clinched the LM P1 Manufacturers' Championship in the American Le Mans Series with their third consecutive 1-2 victory. Before the last three races, the brand with the four rings is out of reach in the classifications for engine and chassis manufacturers.
Team Audi Sport North America's two Audi R10 TDI prototypes were running with different strategies in the closing stages of the Grand Prix of Mosport (Canada). Dindo Capello and Emanuele Pirro used one of the two caution perdiods for an early and final refuelling stop. If another "yellow" had occurred, the strategy might have worked out for the two Italians, but it stayed "green" until the end forcing Pirro to reduce the engine power and save fuel in the final hour. While other cars, opting for a similar strategy, ran out of fuel before the end, the Audi driver was able to take advantage of the low fuel consumption of the TDI engine and crossed the finish line in second position with the last drop of Shell V-Power Diesel.
Lucas Luhr and Marco Werner applied a different strategy in the exciting race. They stayed on track during the second caution period and came to the pits later for their third schedulled refuelling stop. This dropped them to eighth position, but Lucas Luhr was able to make up half a minute in the closing stages with enough fuel and fresh tyres, gradually moving up the race order. Nine laps from the finish he overtook the leading Acura/Honda.
Marco Werner had passed his pole sitting team-mate Dindo Capello on lap seven when the Italian got stuck behind a slower car. He held a 24-second lead when the Safety Car entered the track for the first time. After the driver-change, Lucas Luhr was also able to open a gap before his lead was negated by another caution period.
The only incident for the winning Audi crew occured during the first pit-stop when Marco Werner touched the pit-wall while exciting the pits and damaging the front section of his R10 TDI. The German was nevertheless able to set a new lap-record in 1m 05.823s.
Luhr and Werner celebrated their fifth overall victory in the 2008 American Le Mans Series and their seventh consecutive class win. This means the two Germans have the LM P1 Drivers' title almost in their hands. The next race takes place next Saturday (August 30) in Detroit (U.S. state of Michigan).
Quotes after the race at Mosport
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "It was a fantastic race with a difficult strategic decision in the final phase. All the more beautiful it is that we have now clinched a double victory in the American Le Mans Series for the third time in succession proving ‘Vorsprung durch Technik' – and this being achieved against very strong competition. Congratulations to the whole team, also on prematurely clinching the Manufacturers' Championships."
Lucas Luhr (Audi R10 TDI #2): "That was a real challenge for me when I had to overtake almost all prototypes again at the end of the race. It worked out well. Our car was not in a perfect shape after our little mishap in the pits, and I really had to fight. Our engineer told me on the radio that I had to push like hell. I did, and fortunately it worked out."
Marco Werner (Audi R10 TDI #2): "I've not seen such a great race for quite a while. It was really exciting. It was nail-biting because we were not sure if we could bring the victory home. There were two different strategies for our two cars. It's great that this gave us a 1-2 victory. It was really close in the end for Emanuele (Pirro) who opted for the ‘save fuel' method. We went flat-out but had to pit under ‘green'. I dedicate this victory to our boys who worked a lot this week and put a great car on the wheels for us."
Dindo Capello (Audi R10 TDI #1): "It was a difficult race because we gambled a little bit with the fuel. From one side it was good because we really used the last drop of Diesel that was in our tank. This allowed us to finish second on the very last lap. On the other side we lost the chance to fight for the victory as soon we had to back off and save fuel. This was a little bit frustrating, but it is a great result for Audi and we enjoy it."
Emanuele Pirro (Audi R10 TDI #1): "I really learned to save fuel during the stint. I was two steps of power down, but this was not enough and I had to roll the car into the corners. Despite that my lap times were good enough to keep the LMP 2 cars behind. I'm not happy about the race result because we had a fast car but we gambled and didn't make it. I'm happy on how we managed the situation and I'm happy about the way I drove. I literally ran out of fuel at start and finish. It was good to finish second in these conditions."
Dave Maraj (Team Director Audi Sport North America): "It was definitely a team effort after rebuilding one car on Friday all the way into the night because of a damaged monocoque. The team performed extremely well and our four drivers were great. The complete team did a great job. I'm very pleased."
The results at Mosport
1 Luhr/Werner (Audi R10 TDI) 127 laps in 2h 46m 09.180s (1st in LM P1) 2 Capello/Pirro (Audi R10 TDI) + 21.392s (2nd in LM P1) 3 Brabham/Sharp (Acura/Honda) + 22.156s 4 Fernandez/Diaz (Acura/Honda) + 31.233s 5 Maassen/Long (Porsche) + 44.132s 6 Rossiter/Montagny (Acura/Honda) + 52.635s 7 de Ferran/Pagenaud (Acura/Honda) - 1 lap 8 Dumas/Bernhard (Porsche) - 1 lap 9 Smith/Dyson (Porsche) - 2 laps 10 Franchitti/Leitzinger (Porsche) - 2 laps