Laguna Seca, 20 October 2007
Dindo Capello/Allan McNish win at Laguna Seca
Mike Rockenfeller and Marco Werner finish third
13th outright victory for the Audi R10 TDI
In the finale of the American Le Mans Series at Laguna Seca (US state of California), Team Audi Sport North America has once again given impressive proof of the performance of Audi TDI Power. With the Diesel technology which is set to enter the US market for road cars in 2008, Dindo Capello (Italy) and Allan McNish (Scotland) were able to beat the best Porsche in a photo finish. Mike Rockenfeller (Germany) and Marco Werner (Germany) completed Audiís triumph in the final race of the season with a third place finish.
It was the 13th outright victory for the revolutionary Audi R10 TDI in its 21st race Ė on a track that favoured the LM P2 cars, lighter due to the regulations. In the 4-hour race, however, in the end the weight handicap of the LM P1 cars was not so decisive but the enormous torque of the 650-hp Audi V12 TDI engine.
Despite the Audi drivers dropping behind the lighter LM P2 cars during the pit-stops, they were always able to re-pass them. In the last 30 minutes, the spectators once again witnessed a thriller: Dindo Capello had to defend the lead he had taken from the "factory" Porsche of Romain Dumas with Marco Werner defending his third place against the second Penske Porsche. Twice, Dumas was able to pass Capello in traffic but both times, the Audi driver hit back immediately. He crossed the finish line just 0.410 seconds in front of the Porsche. Marco Werner had a similarly slender gap, just 0.415-second ahead of the other "factory" Porsche.
In the first half of the race, Allan McNish and Mike Rockenfeller had laid the foundations for Audi success. Starting from fifth position on the grid, it took McNish just 15 minutes to conquer the lead. Mike Rockenfeller also showed a strong performance on his first race with the Audi R10 TDI in the American Le Mans Seires, handing over the second R10 TDI in fourth position to Marco Werner.
Werner dropped to ninth place following contact with Stefan Johanssonís Acura/Honda causing a nose change but was able to fight his way back to third position overall.
Quotes after the race
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "This has been an ultra exciting race. The fans have seen sportscar racing at its best. Of course Iím happy we were able to score an overall vicrory on a track which was not perfect for the heavier LM P1 sportscars. It was a great performance from the entire team. Itís nice to finish the season with a victory and a third-place finish."
Dindo Capello (Audi R10 TDI #1): "It was very tough throughout my two hour stint. I had little grip from the front tyres causing me to struggle. I was really afraid that I would make a mistake because I was having to push very hard all of the time Ė I could always see the Porsche in my mirrors. But perhaps sometimes age and experience helps in these tense situations. This race win is even better than the one at Road Atlanta two weeks ago."
Allan McNish (Audi R10 TDI #1): "This victory is a superb way to end the season Ė we pulled a rabbit out of the hat to achieve this win. We came out on top of a hard fight against both Penske Porsches which lasted the entire four hour duration. We always managed to get back ahead of them after the pit-stop sequences and control the race and that was the difference in finishing first or second. Iím very proud of the entire Audi team."
Mike Rockenfeller (Audi R10 TDI #2): "Iím very thankful to Dr Ullrich that he gave me the chance to compete here. It was a great final race of the season for me. Iím happy with my performance. Despite being very careful at the beginning of the race, I quickly moved into fourth position. After the first pit-stop I pushed and was able to match the pace of the three cars in front of me. This was a nice feeling."
Marco Werner (Audi R10 TDI #2): "This was exciting! This was for sure not the best race for us but one of the best races I have driven in recently. The fight with the Porsche in the closing stages was great and real fun. Iím happy about the third position. Thanks to Team Audi Sport North America!"
Dave Maraj (Team Director Audi Sport North America): "Another heart-stopping, close race Ė it was an intense battle from start to finish. For the second consecutive race, Dindo had to withstand amazing pressure in the closing stages. All four drivers produced great drives to finish one-three overall. The team also have worked very hard for this win. Everything had to be perfect in the pit for Audi to achieve this victory. A dream ending to a tough season."
The results at Laguna Seca
1 Capello/McNish (Audi R10 TDI) 157 laps in 4h 00m 14.224s (1st LM P1)
2 Dumas/Bernhard (Porsche) + 0.410s
3 Rockenfeller/Werner (Audi R10 TDI) + 21.498s (2nd in LM P1)
4 Maassen/Briscoe (Porsche) + 21.913s
5 Fernandez/Diaz (Lola/Acura) + 24.853s
6 Kanaan/Herta (Acura/Honda) + 25.603s
7 Dyson/Smith (Porsche) + 56.435s
8 Wallace/Leitzinger (Porsche) - 1 lap
9 Campbell-Walter/Primat (Creation-Judd) - 3 laps (3rd in LM P1)
10 Manning/Chilton (Zytek) - 4 laps (4th in LM P1)