In the finale of the American Le Mans Series at Laguna Seca, Team Audi Sport North America once again gave impressive proof of the performance of Audi TDI Power.
Using the Diesel technology that 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 Audi's triumph in the final race of the season with a third place finish.
This represented the 13th outright victory for the revolutionary Audi R10 TDI in its 21st race, and on a track that traditionally favors the lighter LM P2 cars. Yet in the four-hour race, the weight handicap of the LM P1 cars was not as decisive as the enormous torque of the 650hp Audi V12 TDI engine. And 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 30min, 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 the Audi driver hit back immediately. He crossed the finish line just 0.410sec in front of the Porsche. Marco Werner had a similarly slender gap, just 0.415sec ahead of the other 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 15min to capture the lead. Mike Rockenfeller also showed a strong performance on his first race with the Audi R10 TDI in the American Le Mans Series, handing over the second R10 TDI in fourth position to Marco Werner. Werner then dropped to ninth place after making contact with Stefan Johansson's Acura/Honda, resulting in 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 I'm happy we were able to score an overall victory on a track that was not perfect for the heavier LM P1 sportscars. It was a great performance from the entire team. It's 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 tires, causing me to struggle. I was afraid that I would make a mistake because I was having to push hard all the time and could always see the Porsche in my mirrors."
Allan McNish (Audi R10 TDI #1): "This victory is a superb way to end the season - we pulled a rabbit out of the hat to achieve this win. We came out on top after a hard fight against both Penske Porsches which lasted the entire four-hour race. We always managed to get ahead of them after the pit-stops and control the race, and that was the difference between finishing first or second."
Results for 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)