Silverstone, England - The Audi Sport R8R of Allan McNish and Rinaldo Capello raced to an exciting third place at the P&O Stena Line Silverstone 500k. After qualifying the car fourth, Allan McNish drove the Audi to lead on lap 14 by overtaking...
Silverstone, England - The Audi Sport R8R of Allan McNish and Rinaldo Capello raced to an exciting third place at the P&O Stena Line Silverstone 500k.
After qualifying the car fourth, Allan McNish drove the Audi to lead on lap 14 by overtaking the Panoz number 1 of David Brabham in traffic. McNish then extended his lead by more than seven seconds.
The number 78 Audi was started by Emanuele Pirro in eighth and soon raced into third. After 16 laps the Audi's were in first and third.
On lap 23 the 43 BMW of Auberlen spun into the gravel bringing out the yellow and starting a round of pit stops. This put the McNish Audi back to second behind the Panoz, which pitted earlier.
Lap 34, McNish regained the lead when the Panoz pitted. Soon after on lap 49 the number 78 of Pirro was brought in for a stop-and-go penalty for a pit stop violation. "This was one of those races you think is going well and then it goes away and then it comes back again."
At the mid way point McNish turned the car over to Rinaldo Capello with fresh tires and fuel. Also pitting was Pirro who turned the Audi over to Frank Biela.
On lap 87 Capello retook the lead after the BMW of Lehto stopped for fuel. Two laps later the Audi of Capello came in for a splash and go returning in third position. On lap 97 the Audi developed a problem in the right rear causing the tire to rub creating smoke and almost spinning the car. With out radio communication, Capello drove down the pit lane and then returned to take the checkered flag finishing in third position in exciting fashion. "I didn't really know what was going on with the car, my radio out. I just felt there was something wrong in the rear. I had some trouble when I took over the car, I think there was some debris on the tires. After 10 laps it worked out and I could push."
The Pirro/Biela Audi finished in fourth place. "I hadn't expected the race to be so close. When Emanuele handed over the car he was talking about the air vent over the front left tire coming loose. He was right, this caused the car to understeer and oversteer and the car was bouncing in the corners," said Biela.
"I was going better than we thought. But then the body work broke and after that the car was very difficult to drive especially when the tires ran out. At the end we have been very lucky," said Pirro.
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich said, "for the last race with the '99 cars it was a nice success. But on the other hand I am very disappointed. We made too many mistakes in the pits, which no driver can make up again on the track. We have to work on this for Le Mans."
"The team did an excellent job keeping the '99 car competitive for Silverstone and Charlotte," said Len Hunt, head of Audi Sport North America. "We are looking forward to running Le Mans next month and carrying on with the rest of the season with the 2000 R8."
"That was really an exciting and crazy race," said Reinhold Joest, Audi Sport Team Joest. "We were lucky at the end, but I think we deserved that little present because the spectators had a nice show. Unfortunately we've lost a lot of time in the pits."
<pre> ALMS Final Results for Silverstone: Team Drivers Fast Lap Race Time Laps 1. BMW V12 LMR Lehto/Muller 1:41.534 2:55.06 98 2. Panoz Brabham/Magnussen 1:41.192 -33.493 3. Audi Sport R8R McNish/Capello 1:40.667 - 1:44.322 4. Audi Sport R8R Pirro/Biela/Alboreto 1:41.380 - 1 lap 5. Cadillac Northstar Collard/Bernard 1:43.442 - 1 lap `
</pre> The Silverstone race will be televised on Monday, May 15 at 9:00 p.m. on Speedvision.