St. Pete: Audi race report

Audi wins at St Petersburg Ingolstadt/St Petersburg -- Audi scored the first victory of the Audi R10 TDI in the 2008 American Le Mans Series in a thrilling battle in the second round at St Petersburg (US state of Florida). Lucas Luhr who ...

Audi wins at St Petersburg

Ingolstadt/St Petersburg -- Audi scored the first victory of the Audi R10 TDI in the 2008 American Le Mans Series in a thrilling battle in the second round at St Petersburg (US state of Florida). Lucas Luhr who is partnered with Marco Werner finished with a victory margin of just 0.818s, having re-captured the lead of the race just three laps before the end. It was the 14th outright victory of the diesel-powered sportscar and the first overall win of Lucas Luhr in the series.

Having controlled the race from the beginning, pole-sitter Marco Werner built up a margin on soft tyres over Porsche driver Timo Bernhard in the first part of the race. A full-course yellow caution prompted the team to call in Werner in lap 36 for a full service. Lucas Luhr took over and followed Romain Dumas in the leading Porsche. After a second safety car intervention, Lucas Luhr took the lead in lap 63 with a breathtaking manoeuvre after the straight. When the leading cars lapped several backmarkers, Luhr lost the lead to Dumas again. After a final yellow phase, Luhr used the TDI power of his car to pass the leader under acceleration on the straight with just three laps to go and eventually celebrated his first overall victory.

Emanuele Pirro/Frank Biela in the Audi R10 TDI #1 sister car were forced to retire after a set of problems dropped them back. An indication of what might have been possible became evident by the sheer speed of the car which set the fastest lap of the race in 1m 04.942s, one hundredth quicker than the sister car.

Having improved from ninth position on the grid to fifth place, Frank Biela handed over the car to his Italian team-mate in lap 36. Only after Pirro had departed again, it was clear that a tossle after a restart in the early phase of the race had caused damage to a stressed part of the rear wing. For safety reasons, the team changed the rear end which dropped the car back by one lap. The decision to go for soft tyres and a splash-and-dash refuelling to make up for the lost time seemed to be perfect. But in lap 63 Pirro had to retire in the pits after the body of his car had suffered too severe damage in a contact with another car. As the Audi R10 TDI #1 has achieved a sufficient number of laps to be classified, it finished 24th overall and 2nd in the LM P1 class.

Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "I feel very pleased, particularly after the disappointing result in the first round at Sebring. It is all the more surprising that we managed to clinch the victory on a street course which is normally not so well-suited to the strengths of the Audi R10 TDI. This is a great motivation for the next races as well as for the whole 2008 season."

Lucas Luhr (Audi R10 TDI #2): "It was a tough race for us. We struggled a bit in the heat. But at the end, we got it and that is what counts. Thank you to the whole team and Audi Sport North America for the support as well as the guys back home. This victory really means a lot to me because it is my first overall victory in the American Le Mans Series and it is my first victory for Audi. I'm really happy. I want to thank everybody for their help."

Marco Werner (Audi R10 TDI #2): "A great day for Audi so I'm very happy for the make and for Champion Racing. Everything worked well. At the end it was a thriller. I'm proud of Lucas as he did an excellent job, especially after the restart. That's why we drive TDI!"

Frank Biela (Audi R10 TDI #1): "I think the performance of our car was quite good. After having chosen the harder tyre compound for qualifying, it looked like a disadvantage. But the pace in the race was okay. Unfortunately, I got involved in a tangle at the beginning of the race. When we came in for full service, I was quite optimistic. But then we had to change the rear wing which has been damaged in the collision. This was the beginning of the end. But the most important thing is the other car scored a win."

Emanuele Pirro (Audi R10 TDI #1): "The positive thing is the win which is really good. For Frank and myself, however, it was a debut which was half good and half bad. We had a lot of bad luck. But when you read between the lines, we were really fast in the race. We had a very good car which was proven by the fastest overall race lap we've achieved. But every time we had a problem, we were trapped in it. Unfortunately, everything which could go wrong did go wrong. But our speed was good so we look forward to the next race."

Dave Maraj (Director Audi Sport Team North America): "This was a very exciting race. Lucas did a great job, as did everybody in the team from tyre people right to the engineers. I am happy to bring home another win for Audi."

-credit: audi motorsport

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Frank Biela , Lucas Luhr , Timo Bernhard , Marco Werner , Romain Dumas , Dave Maraj , Emanuele Pirro