The American Le Mans Series is moving along at a rapid pace: With Long Beach and Houston coming up, as many as two city races are on the agenda within just one week - putting the Audi R10 TDI, which has remained unbeaten so far, to the test yet again.
By claiming a one-two victory in St. Petersburg, Audi proved that the revolutionary diesel-powered sportscar is also capable of winning on a street course. The circuits in Long Beach and Houston, however, have different characteristics than the track in St. Petersburg. This means that the Audi Sport North America team is facing two other big challenges.
The drivers and technical crews have to master a particularly tough task in Long Beach: Before the qualifying, the teams have merely 45 minutes of practice to familiarize themselves with the circuit that is new to all Audi drivers. The race lasts only 100 minutes, making it the shortest in the history of the American Le Mans Series until today.
One week later, the world’s fastest sportscars will be competing on the city circuit in Houston, which Dindo Capello and Allan McNish know from last year’s victory in their Audi R8 . For Emanuele Pirro and Marco Werner, though, Houston is new territory. The circuit is the slowest one on the 2007 American Le Mans Series schedule with an extremely bumpy surface.
After the 1-2 victory in St. Petersburg, there was no time for the Audi squad to catch their breath: While the drivers flew back to Europe for testing in France for the 24 Hours of Le Mans on 16/17 June, Dave Maraj’s Team Audi Sport North America had only three days to prepare the two R10 TDI sports prototypes for the next race. As early as on Thursday the trucks left the team’s base in Pompano Beach in Florida to travel the 2,700-mile distance across the United States to the West Coast.
Long Beach is host to the American Le Mans Series for the first time. For Audi Sport, though, this round marks the return to a special venue: In April 1988, Audi contested its début race with the 200 quattro TransAm - after changing from rallying to circuit racing - on the street course near Los Angeles. At that time, Audi caused a big sensation with its quattro drive, while today it is TDI Power that is making the headlines in the United States.
The schedule in Long Beach
Friday, 13 April
9:00 - 9:45 hrs Practic
4:30 - 4:55 hrs Qualifying (LM P1 / LM P2)
Saturday, 14 April
8:00 - 8:20 hrs Warm-up
4:00 - 5:40 hrs Race
The schedule in Houston
Friday, 20 April
11:35 - 12:35 hrs Practice 1
5:00 - 6:00 hrs Practice 2
6:40 - 7:00 hrs Qualifying (LM P1 / LM P2)
Saturday, 21 April
11:30 - 12:00 hrs Warm-up
5:30 - 8:15 hrs Race