AUDI REIGNS IN MOSPORT CLASSIC Traffic at Mosport International Raceway did little to faze Audi Sport North America's Lucas Luhr and Marco Werner on Sunday as they drove to their third straight overall American Le Mans Series victory in...
AUDI REIGNS IN MOSPORT CLASSIC
Traffic at Mosport International Raceway did little to faze Audi Sport North America's Lucas Luhr and Marco Werner on Sunday as they drove to their third straight overall American Le Mans Series victory in the Mobil 1 presents the Grand Prix of Mosport. Luhr crossed the finish line 21.392 seconds ahead of teammate Emanuele Pirro as Gil de Ferran ran out of fuel on the last lap while leading in LMP2. That sent David Brabham and Scott Sharp to their fourth class victory of the season.
To say the race was a classic wouldn't be an overstatement. Luhr pitted from the overall lead just before the two-hour mark and re-entered the race in eighth place with 45 minutes to go. What ensued was a mad dash to the checkered flag in a frantic finish as Luhr diced his way through the high-speed Mosport traffic.
"My fingernails are a little shorter," said Werner, whose opening stint included a hit on the pit wall when he exited his pit stall. "Every time you sit in the pits, you are closer to a heart attack than when you are in the car.
"In the beginning I didn't know if it would affect the car because we were under yellow," Werner added about his tap. "We felt a little understeer and on cold tires I had no grip. It was really a shame. Everything did work out though."
The victory also gave Audi a ninth consecutive P1 manufacturer championship for the German marque.
The early part of the weekend for Audi was as hectic as the traffic. The crew for Luhr and Werner had to replace the Audi tub when a piece of the track surface came loose and made a hole in the chassis in Friday's test session.
The team's work paid off. After Werner qualified second to Pirro's teammate Dindo Capello, the Luhr/Werner tandem combined to lead 75 of the 127 laps. They have won seven straight LMP1 rounds and lead in the championship by 68 points.
"We made up about 30 seconds in the last part of the race," Luhr said. "If that's what it takes to win, then we do it. It's always really tough (with the slower cars and traffic). They are racing and we are racing. I saw two or three GT cars racing while I was trying to catch the leader. I can't waste time or tires and it's not easy to find the right way. We didn't touch anyone today so we did OK."
Intersport Racing's trio of Jon Field, Clint Field and Richard Berry placed third in P1 in their Lola B06/10-AER.
Patrón Highcroft Racing's Brabham and Sharp won their fourth race of the season and third in four rounds. Brabham got by both Penske Racing's Romain Dumas and Lowe's Fernandez Racing's Adrian Fernandez to put the Patrón Highcroft Racing Acura ARX-01b in position to take advantage of de Ferran's misfortune.
Fernandez and Luis Diaz finished second in class with Penske's Sascha Maassen and Patrick Long placing third.
"How the race panned out I have no idea," Brabham said. "I didn't know Gil was leading when he ran out of fuel. My main concern was getting past Fernandez toward the end. I think he was trying to save fuel as well. It was fantastic racing. We were passing backward and forward. It was a joy to be a part of it."
Unlike their Acura counterparts at de Ferran Motorsports, the fuel strategy paid off for Patrón Highcroft. Brabham drove the final hour on a tank of fuel as he had to balance conservation with the speed he needed to fight Dumas and Fernandez.
The victory also closed the gap in the class championship. The Porsche RS Spyder of Dumas and Timo Bernhard ran out of fuel on the last lap, meaning a sixth-place class finish. Brabham and Sharp trail the defending class champions by 10 points.
"I think we've had the mindset to keep it going," Sharp said. "Everywhere we show up we're pretty competitive. We don't think there is a track where we don't think we have a chance of winning. The Porsches were getting some great fuel mileage and David's run really saved some fuel."
Johnny O'Connell and Jan Magnussen won for the second straight year in GT1, going flag-to-flag in their Corvette C6.R.. Corvette Racing's championship-leading duo was fastest in every session this week including qualifying.
"It was a difficult race because the prototypes were so fast," Magnussen said. "They would pass us every six or seven laps it felt like. The race to us wasn't about the ultimate lap time but being smart in traffic. I was very happy with our guys who helped us know who was coming. We didn't have a scratch on our car and were able to put some time on the second car."
That second Corvette of Olivier Beretta and Oliver Gavin finished second, 22.446 seconds behind the winning C6.R. Bell Motorsports finished third in class. Terry Borcheller and Chapman Ducote ended two laps down and third in GT1.
O'Connell won for the sixth time at Mosport since 1999, and Magnussen is now a three-time winner there. They won overall at Mosport 10 years ago in a Panoz factory prototype.
"This was an amazing race. The history of this place is magical and for us to compete here is a very cool deal to be a part of history," O'Connell said. "We had a really good weekend for both cars. Here, one of your biggest concerns is traffic and how psychotic the P2 cars and P1 cars are. But they were all pretty respectful and I think it showed."
Jaime Melo and Mika Salo won their long-awaited first Series race this season, taking a hard-fought GT2 victory for Risi Competizione and its Ferrari F430 GT. Melo in the pole-winning car got around Dirk Werner's Porsche 911 GT3 RSR with 22 minutes left at Turn 1.
"The car was really great and it's the first weekend this year where we've had no problems at all," Salo said. "The car was as good as it could have been from the first lap. It was easy driving in this car. If we pushed, the Farnbacher Loles car was a second a lap slower. It was a matter of staying out of trouble. Passing is tough here because the only place to do it is on the backstretch."
At a track where incidents can happen often, Melo and Salo drove a perfect race for what seems like the first time this year in the Series. They won eight times last season - including at Mosport - on their way to the class championship. Their only other victory this year was at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
"It's amazing after a very tough year," Melo admitted. "We showed that we are very competitive at every race but we couldn't finish on the top position. We finally got it. It's something we've known we'd be able to do all week. The Michelin tires were amazing and we could turn very good lap times. It was a good race all day with many cars. I'm really happy to be on the top of the podium."
Werner and Pierre Kaffer finished second in the Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche. Class championship leaders Jorg Bergmeister and Wolf Henzler finished third for Flying Lizard Motorsports in their Porsche.
There isn't much time to rest. The next round of the American Le Mans Series is the Detroit Sports Car Challenge presented by Bosch. The race from Belle Isle in Detroit is scheduled for 2:35 p.m. ET on Saturday, August 30. SPEED will broadcast the race live, and XM will air it from 5 to 8 p.m. ET on Sunday, August 31. Qualifying will be shown live online starting at 4:35 p.m. ET on Friday, August 29 on americanlemans.com and SPEEDtv.com. American Le Mans Radio will have live coverage of all on-track sessions at americanlemans.com, which also will feature IMSA's Live Timing & Scoring.