Lime Rock: Audi race report

Audi R8 claims victory in farewell race R8 bows out in style after 63 outright wins 50th overall victory for Audi in the American Le Mans Series Capello and McNish extend championship lead The final chapter held a fairytale ending for the "old...

Audi R8 claims victory in farewell race

R8 bows out in style after 63 outright wins 50th overall victory for Audi in the American Le Mans Series Capello and McNish extend championship lead The final chapter held a fairytale ending for the "old girl's" last ever race: Dindo Capello (Italy) and Allan McNish (Scotland) steered their Audi R8 home to an amazing and emotional victory at Lime Rock Park (US state of Connecticut) -- the final race for the most successful Le Mans Prototype of all time.

Team Audi Sport North America's R8 started the fourth round of the American Le Mans Series from the second row of the grid aiming to repeat their Houston victory which began the three-race "final tour" for the Audi R8 in May. Capello handed over to McNish after 45mins in second place during the race's second full course caution, the Audi sweeping in to the lead after 64mins in the 2hr 45mins race staged in humid heat.

An 18secs lead was wiped away with another full course caution with an hour to go when McNish was forced to delay his final fuel stop by a lap when officials stopped him entering the pit lane allowing the second placed Porsche, which headed down pit road moments later, to leapfrog the Audi. But a determined charge saw the R8 back in front with 30mins to run, McNish ultimately taking the chequered flag by 11.812secs to extend their lead in the LM P1 Drivers', Manufacturers' and Teams' Championship points advantage.

The Audi R8 thus bowed out of motorsport in stunning style. Sixty-three outright wins from 80 races including five victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and 50 ALMS race triumphs since its debut in 2000. The R8 makes way for the new Audi R10 TDI -- the first diesel powered sportscar to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans -- returning to American Le Mans Series action since recording a historic debut victory in the ALMS season-opening Sebring 12 Hours fourth months ago.

LM P1 championship leaders Allan McNish and Dindo Capello are joined for the final six American Le Mans Series races from the next race in Salt Lake City (15 July) by reigning ALMS LM P1 champions Frank Biela (Germany) and Emanuele Pirro (Italy) in a brace of Audi Sport North America R10 TDI sports-prototypes. The race winning Audi R8 at Lime Rock spotted a sticker saying "My other car is a diesel".

Quotes after the race at Lime Rock

Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "This is a big achievement to stop a great career with a victory and especially with the 50th victory in the American Le Mans Series which for sure is again something that comes into the history books. It's great to finish a big story of a great car. Thanks to the drivers, thanks to the team -- this was an excellent performance."

Dindo Capello (Audi R8 #2): "I was surprised just how good and fast we were after the opening three laps, just like at Houston. Our pit strategy was absolutely perfect and the team did a great job. Allan was very fast throughout and despite the misunderstanding by the pit lane marshal on our final stop, nothing was going to stop us with the R8 this good today. Apart from this race, other highlights with the R8 for me include claiming pole-position at the Nurburgring in 2000 -- the first time the Audi R8 had raced in Germany -- and of course my 2004 Le Mans victory."

Allan McNish (Audi R8 #2): "It's a very proud day for the team, Dindo and I -- to personally give the R8 a final win here is unbelievable. We all had to pull out 110% to score this victory -- the car, drivers and team -- but the R8 stood up to it as she always does. I've had so many other highs with the R8. My first R8 win -- with Dindo -- at Sears Point in 2000, Adelaide that year where we clinched Audi's first ALMS title, my victory for Audi UK at Sebring in 2004 and last year's Silverstone 1,000km victory in atrocious weather conditions. If I enjoy the same kind of success with the R10 TDI that I have enjoyed with this car, I'll personally be highly delighted."

Dave Maraj (Team Director, Team Audi Sport North America): "It was an amazing race. Great driving and great team work. I will always have fond memories of the Audi R8 because this sports-prototype 'made' my team -- without this car I may not even have been here today because I may not have had a team without Audi. My team scored its first outright ALMS victory with her at Road Atlanta in 2003, won my 'home' 12 Hours of Sebring for the first time last year and then the world's biggest and toughest sportscar race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans as an Audi 'customer' team. The team now faces a new and big challenge with the R10 TDI. To be involved as a 'factory' team is a massive and exciting project."

-audi-

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Series ALMS
Drivers Allan McNish , Frank Biela , Dave Maraj , Dindo Capello , Emanuele Pirro