Audi Back On Top

With a back to back overall win at the first two events of the American Le Mans season, the Audi R10 TDI fielded by Audi Sport North America was expected to dominate not only its class but all other cars. After the team’s two consecutive wins, the lighter LM P2 cars showed that they can beat the much praised diesel race car. Eight overall wins were posted by the lighter LM P2 cars which are fielded by Penske Racing and backed by Porsche.

At the Petit Le Mans though, Audi proved that they can beat LM P2 cars despite the disparity in weight and the size of the fuel tank. Allan McNish co-driving the No. 1 Audi R10 TDI claimed his third American Le Mans championship career title with their win at Road Atlanta. The victory also marked the second win of the Scotsman in Petit Le Mans.

As for the team’s dominance in Petit Le Mans, they have scored their eighth consecutive win at the event this year. With that win, they once again swept the three most prestigious endurance races. On March 17 of this year, Marco Werner, Emanuele Pirro, and Frank Biela scored the team’s first win at the first race of the season in the prestigious 12 Hours of Sebring. Then, on June 17, the same three drivers won the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“I’m very, very proud of this race victory considering the fight we faced and obstacles that were put in front of us – a perfect way to win the Drivers’ title again,” said McNish. “Petit Le Mans is a long event not only for a car and its drivers but the entire team and everyone played a major part in this victory,” he added.

“I couldn’t avoid hitting a spinning backmarker and then had a deflating rear tyre which necessitated two pit-stops. Dindo and I opened up a one lap lead after seven hours but a full course caution brought the Porsche back into contention but that’s endurance racing. Audi are back on the very top of the rostrum and there is no better way for Dindo and I to have won a second consecutive title – our third ALMS title in total.”

The race had a strange twist as luck was definitely on Audi’s side. With Romain Dumas driving his Porsche leading the way, the yellow flag was raised. The caution allowed Capello to erase the 30 second lead of the LM P2 car. “If the yellow had not come out, I don’t think I could have caught him,” said Capello. “His pace was so strong that it didn’t let me relax. I only realized when I crossed the line that Romain was the closest car to me,” Capello added.

Dumas accepted the second overall finish saying: “We won Mosport with luck and today the luck was on the other side. Unfortunately the safety car came out and took away our gap, but I tried to keep the pressure on Dindo. It was a great race.”

This years’ victory of the diesel powered, Audi spoiler -equipped Audi R10 TDI shows that the automaker is serious in developing diesel engines not only for motorsport but also for commercial passengers.

About the Author: Anthony Fontanelle is a 35-year-old automotive buff who grew up in the Windy City. He does freelance work for an automotive magazine when he is not busy customizing cars in his shop.

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