Long Beach: Audi qualifying report

Audi R10 TDI in third and fourth row at Long Beach Ingolstadt/Long Beach -- The Audi R10 TDI was able to improve its lap time in qualifying for the third round of the American Le Mans Series by a remarkable margin over last year's result. On...

Audi R10 TDI in third and fourth row at Long Beach

Ingolstadt/Long Beach -- The Audi R10 TDI was able to improve its lap time in qualifying for the third round of the American Le Mans Series by a remarkable margin over last year's result. On the bumpy temporary Long Beach (California) track the diesel-powered sportscar achieved a lap time that was nearly a whole second quicker than in 2007. By comparison, the leading LM P2 car on pole position was only 0.5s quicker than last year. As the lap times between the two LM P classes have been much closer than before, the first seven cars were covered by just 0.566s with Audi starting from sixth and seventh positions on the grid.

Lucas Luhr who qualified the #2 Audi R10 TDI constantly improved his lap times on the 1.968 mile track in downtown Long Beach in the 25-minute qualifying session. Initially, the German Audi works driver was fighting for a top position on the grid in a fierce battle with the LM P2 cars. After 15 minutes, Luhr had set his personal best time of 1m 11.765s when a red flag interrupted the session for three minutes.

In the remaining seven minutes, he again went out but was unable to improve his lap time once more. In spite of being just 0.435s slower that the fastest LM P2 cars, Luhr's leading LM P1 lap time was only good enough for sixth position overall on the grid.

In a strong team effort, Emanuele Pirro qualified the #1 Audi R10 TDI just 0.131s behind the sister car. The Italian made a leap forward in the first fifteen minutes and set his lap time of 1m 11.896s before the red flag came out. Pirro will line up seventh on the grid and second in the LM P1 class. He was upbeat after qualifying as he expects the Audi R10 TDI car's race pace to be more competitive than its qualifying speed.

Lucas Luhr (Audi R10 TDI #2): "It was a tough qualifying, but the times were closer than expected. Before qualifying, I thought if I could do a 1m 12s time I'd be happy. Now we did a lap of 1m 11.765s. I pushed as hard as I could and even slightly touched the wall. I was a little bit unlucky as there was traffic twice. Now it's all about the race. There are some places where we can pass other cars."

Marco Werner (Audi R10 TDI #2): "Lucas did a good job. His lap of 1m 11.765s is really a good time. The starting position however is disappointing. In free practice, it was hard to believe that we were sometimes leading. But now we saw that it is much more difficult than at St Petersburg. The track is much more bumpy and favours LM P2 cars. We can do a little bit better in the race although it will not be easy from our position on the grid."

Frank Biela (Audi R10 TDI #1): "It is very close at the front. We saw seven cars within six tenths of a second. Emanuele did a very good job. His lap time was strong, but we are only seventh as it is so close. The race will be very hard but I believe that there are seven or eight cars out there that can win."

Emanuele Pirro (Audi R10 TDI #1): "I think we can be very happy with qualifying, although we are only sixth an seventh on the grid. Compared to last year, we are a lot closer to the leaders. Last year I started sixth and before the end of my stint, I was in the lead. Our car is a lot better in race trim than in qualifying trim. The power of the TDI engine gives us the chance to overtake on the straights. I'm happy with the race set-up and I'm quite optimistic for the race. The gap between us and the pole sitter is really small."

Dave Maraj (Director Audi Sport Team North America): "We went a second quicker than last year whereas the LM P2 cars were only 0.5s faster than last year. That means it is much more competitive this year. The position on the grid is not excellent, but I think that we can be competitive in the race. With a little bit of luck, we can be right there in the end."

-credit: audi

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Series ALMS
Drivers Frank Biela , Lucas Luhr , Marco Werner , Dave Maraj , Emanuele Pirro