1-2 victory for Audi in the American Le Mans Series at Road America
Audi once more demonstrated the impressive performance of modern diesel engines in round eight of the American Le Mans Series at Road America (US state of Wisconsin): Both Audi R10 TDI sportscars were the dominating cars on the fastest track of the season, achieving another 1-2 victory in the LM P1 class. After a fierce inter-team battle, Dindo Capello/Allan McNish (Italy/Scotland) beat their team-mates Emanuele Pirro/Marco Werner (Italy/Germany) by just 0.796 seconds.
Team Audi Sport North America lost the fight for the overall victory by just 1.783 seconds to the fastest LM P2 car after the two R10 TDI sportscars had been in the lead for almost the entire four-hour distance. The longer pit-stops, caused by the regulations, and tyre issues cost Audi any chance of the possible outright victory.
In humid and hot conditions, the two Audi R10 TDI prototypes were easing away from the start before Allan McNish suffered a left rear puncture in one of the fastest parts of track 45 minutes into the race. Despite that, both diesel-powered sportscars held a commanding 1-2 lead when a thunderstorm caused a more than 60-minute long intervention of the Safety Car allowing the competition to close the gap.
In the final stages of the race, Team Audi Sport North America did not take any risk by not changing the tyres on both R10 TDI cars. This caused Dindo Capello and Emanuele Pirro to drop behind the two "factory" Porsches. The exciting final laps saw the two Audi drivers pass one of the two lighter LM P2 cars and almost completely cancel out an 18-second gap to the second "factory" Porsche.
The race was decided on the penultimate lap when both R10 TDI cars hit slower traffic in the long "Carousel" section making them lose valuable seconds. "The final result was open until the very end,” said Capello. “I enjoyed a close but fair fight with Emanuele (Pirro) in the closing stages and I felt that I was faster than him. Four laps from the end, I lost front end grip, making braking very difficult, but I still tried absolutely everything to catch the leading Porsche. But I hit some very bad traffic just two laps from the chequered flag and lost too much time and any chance of a race victory was gone from that moment."