Audi achieves "Petit Le Mans" hat-trick
Ingolstadt/Road Atlanta -- With an impressive success at Road Atlanta (U.S. state of Georgia) Audi continued its winning streak at the prestigious 1000-mile race "Petit Le Mans". In front of a record crowd of 113,000 spectators, Dindo Capello, Allan McNish and Emanuele Pirro achieved Audi's ninth consecutive victory. Audi thus remains unbeaten at "Petit Le Mans".
Team Audi Sport North America won at Road Atlanta for a third time in a row with the Audi R10 TDI. After the hat-trick in the Le Mans 24 Hours, Audi thus also achieved a hat-trick with the revolutionary diesel-powered sportscar in the "small brother" of the French Endurance classic. After almost ten hours, the winning Audi R10 TDI beat the second placed Peugeot 908 by 4.512 seconds. Lucas Luhr and Marco Werner completed the Audi triumph with third place.
The winning drive of Dindo Capello, Allan McNish and Emanuele Pirro will go down in the history books as one of the most important Endurance races in the U.S. alongside the Sebring 12 Hours. Allan McNish lost control of the Audi R10 TDI on cold tyres on his way to the starting grid spinning into the wall. It was a huge effort by Team Audi Sport North America to rebuild the badly damaged car in just over an hour.
Allan McNish had to start the race two laps down. Consistently fast lap times, a good strategy and perfect pit-stops allowed the number 1 Audi R10 TDI to come back onto the lead-lap. A tyre problem and coolers covered by tyre pick-up, however, later cost another lap.
Using the total of eleven caution periods in the best possible way, the team was again able to recover the lost lap. Finally it was decisive that Allan McNish changed the tyres once more at the last refuelling stop. On the fresher tyres he was first able to pass his team-mate Marco Werner. On lap 364 of 394 he then was able to outbrake the leading Peugeot. The Peugeot tried to fight back but McNish kept the lead in a 300-kph wheel-to-wheel battle.
McNish crossed the finish line as the winner of one of the most exciting "Petit Le Mans" races with a 4.512-second margin. Marco Werner put pressure on Christian Klien in the Peugeot in the final laps but could not pass him. In the end the number 2 Audi R10 TDI missed second place by just 3.053 seconds.
The lead changed a total of 29 times in the turbulent race. Lucas Luhr and Marco Werner led 135 of 394 laps and were able to open a gap of over half a minute. The caution periods, however, worked against them.
Audi had already clinched the the LM P1 Drivers', Manufacturers' and Teams' Championship of the American Le Mans Series prior the "Petit Le Mans" race. The finale will take place at Laguna Seca (U.S. state of California) on 18 October.
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "This year, we have won the Le Mans 24 Hours, the American Le Mans Series, the Le Mans Series and now also 'Petit Le Mans' with the Audi R10 TDI. You can hardly demonstrate 'Vorsprung durch Technik' in a more impressive way. Yet again we showed how good Audi TDI Power is. Peugeot was strong, but we were even stronger. If you start with a two-lap deficit and still win, this is no coincidence. The whole squad did a great job after the accident in the morning. We are proud that we were able to continue our 'Petit Le Mans' winning streak."
Dindo Capello (Audi R10 TDI #1): "In some stints we had really big issues with the car. We just had to forget this and the accident before the race to enjoy the result. It was great racing and a great team effort. Three Petit Le Mans victories in a row for Allan (McNish) and me is a great record. I raced here six times and won five times. What more can I ask? It was a great drive from Allan at the end and a great strategy of the team. And I'm very happy having achieved a second victory together with an Italian after winning with Michele Alboreto in 2000."
Allan McNish (Audi R10 TDI #1): "I'm very proud of everybody within the team. Rebuilding the car after the crash on the warm-up lap into perfect condition for Emanuele (Pirro), Dindo (Capello) and I to drive it back to the front made this race very special. Dindo and I have won here four times together. This has been definitely the hardest victory, but also the sweetest."
Emanuele Pirro (Audi R10 TDI #1): "If you make a thrilling film script you cannot make it so exciting. After a terrible morning it's been a fantastic race, especially thanks to Allan (McNish) who drove a fantastic last stint. We had some good luck and a very good strategy early on to catch back the two laps. We had some concern with the car halfway through the race. But later everything was okay. I cannot be more happy. It's been just fantastic. It's been a pleasure to drive with Dindo (Capello) and Allan."
Lucas Luhr (Audi R10 TDI #2): "Of course an Audi 1-2 victory would have been even better. Unfortunately Marco (Werner) had no chance against Allan (McNish) and the Peugeot on used tyres in the end. Allan drove really superbly. I'm happy with my performance. We finished third and had a good car but you need also some luck in such a long race. We did not quite have this today."
Marco Werner (Audi R10 TDI #2): "Of course it's a bit disappointing for me and Lucas (Luhr). We did a good job during the race and have been in the lead for a long time. The caution periods do not always help you. In the end I was on used tyres while Allan (McNish) and Peugeot had new tyres. I could do nothing against them. But it's great that Audi has won the race. It was a top job from the whole team."
Dave Maraj (Team Director Audi Sport North America): "I'm absolutely delighted. This is an enormous win for Audi, an enormous win for Allan (McNish) and an enormous win for the team. The team fixed the car after the crash in the morning. We were two and a half laps behind and still able to pass the 'unbeatable' Peugeot in the night."