Contacts prevent Audi from winning at Salt Lake Ci - Sunday, May 18, 2008 at 22:21


Contacts prevent Audi from winning at Salt Lake City

  • Both Audi R10 TDI cars involved in collisions just before the end
  • Lucas Luhr/Marco Werner win LM P1 class
  • Frank Biela/Emanuele Pirro third in class despite retirement


Ingolstadt/Salt Lake City Ė Team Audi Sport North Americaís pair of Audi R10 TDI prototypes had the chance to clinch another overall victory in the exciting fourth round of the American Le Mans Series near Salt Lake City (US state of Utah). After a dramatic finish, however, Audi had to be content with victory in the LM P1 class.
The start at the Miller Motorsports Park was once again an impressive demonstration of the performance of Audi TDI Power: Starting from rows three and four, Marco Werner and Frank Biela were able to use the torque of the V12 TDI engine to overtake all cars in front of them, diving into the first corner in first and second positions.
Despite using an early caution period for refuelling, both Audi R10 TDI cars were running at the front of the field at half-distance of the 2hour 45minute race. Still the final score was just a class victory.
A problem during the second pit-stop cost Marco Werner and Lucas Luhr 25 seconds and the lead. Despite that, Luhr was able to catch the leading Porsche again before he was hit by a slower GT2 car. This cut the right rear tyre of the Audi R10 TDI. Luhr spun and lost the chance to fight for the overall victory. It was quite a surprise that a stop-and-go penalty was imposed on Luhr for "avoidable contact".
Only two laps later, also Emanuele Pirro was hit by a GT car. The Italian stopped off the track with a broken left rear suspension. At that time he was running in second position only 16 seconds behind the eventual winner.
Despite the retirement, Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro were classified third in the LM P1 class. Lucas Luhr and Marco Werner finished the race in seventh place overall and scored the maximum points in the LM P1 class for the third consecutive time, thus further extending their lead in the Driversí Championship.
Quotes after the race at Salt Lake City
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport):
"It was a great effort of the drivers and the team to get into the lead from these difficult starting positions. Thatís why itís even more disappointing having had so much bad luck in the end and losing the chance for victory just before the finish."
Lucas Luhr (Audi R10 TDI #2): "It was a great and exciting race. We were in a strong position until a slower car hit me in the right rear. I got a puncture and additionally a stop-and-go penalty. I canít understand these rules. At least we were able to clinch another LM P1 victory. And we had the speed to win."
Marco Werner (Audi R10 TDI #2): "Of course we are disappointed. At the beginning things were running well. We had the pace. You canít do more than come to the pits after your stint as the leader. But from that moment on everything went wrong. First the car did not start properly and Lucas (Luhr) had a very slow first lap that cost him a lot of time. Then there was contact with a GT car which touched him in the rear. He got a stop-and-go penalty for that. You can discuss about this, for me this was not okay. It destroyed our race. Itís a shame. We had the victory in our hands but could not bring it home. We can just be happy having scored maximum points in LM P1."
Frank Biela (Audi R10 TDI #1): "At the beginning the car felt very good. I was on the used tyres from qualifying which were very consistent. After the caution period a got a little bit more under-steer on the second set of tyres and had to fight a bit harder. Despite that things went well. The victory was still in reach. What happened in the end was a shame. But you always have to take risks in these races, so things like this can happen."
Emanuele Pirro (Audi R10 TDI #1): "We had a very fast car and we were trying to win the race. Frank (Biela) drove excellent in the first half. We were unlucky to pit under green. But still we were catching up and I was confident to catch the leader. In the worst case we would have been second. Unfortunately there was a collision when I was overtaking a slow car which I could not avoid. This was very unfortunate."
Dave Maraj (Team Director Audi Sport North America): "Unfortunately this was not our race. We were fast but we had some bad luck on the track with contacts. We are looking forward and try to win the next race."
The results at Salt Lake City
1 Dumas/Bernhard (Porsche), 96 laps in 2h 45m 34.653s
2 Maassen/Long (Porsche), + 22.656s
3 de Ferran/Pagenaud (Acura/Honda), + 26.839s
4 Franchitti/Leitzinger (Porsche), + 46.121s
5 Fernandez/Diaz (Acura/Honda), + 1m 11.950s
6 Smith/Dyson (Porsche), - 1 lap
7 Luhr/Werner (Audi R10 TDI), - 1 lap (1st in LM P1)
8 Herta/Fittipaldi (Acura/Honda), - 2 laps
9 Devlin/Bonilla (Lola-Mazda), - 3 laps
10 OíConnell/Magnussen (Chevrolet), - 8 laps
21 Biela/Pirro (Audi R10 TDI), - 17 laps (3rd in LM P1)