St. Pete: Michelin race report

AUDI NIPS PORSCHE IN ST. PETE STREET FIGHT New Michelin "Street Soft" Tires Prevail; Class Wins Now ...

New Michelin "Street Soft" Tires Prevail; Class Wins Now #249

ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. (April 5, 2008) -.Penske Porsche's Romain Dumas made the network broadcast "move of the race," a bold, three-wide, outside pass into turn one to take the lead but Audi's Lucas Luhr fought back on the final restart with just three minutes remaining making the move that ultimately won the race as Michelin teams swept the top six positions and all four class wins in an exciting Acura Sports Car Challenge of St Petersburg, the second stop of the 2008 American Le Mans Series. The final margin of victory was just .818 seconds.

The Audi R10 TDI victory for Luhr and pole-sitter Marco Werner is an impressive return by Audi to the front on the street circuits that have recently tipped in favor of their Porsche rivals. All of the Michelin technical partner prototype teams from Audi; Porsche; and Acura took advantage of the debut of a new Michelin "street soft" tire. "We were surprised at how well the car was going here. We knew we had a good car with good grip," said Luhr, who scored his first overall ALMS victory. Werner, who set a new track record in qualifying and led until the first round of pit stops added: "we were not expecting the car to be this good. It was great to go out and win a race for Audi."

Scoring their eighth consecutive LMP2 class win was the #7 Penske Porsche RS Spyder driven by Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas. "Michelin did a great job providing a new tire," said Dumas. "The new compound was great and the tires did a great job holding up for the distance."

The legendary Corvette team made history in GT1 as the #4 Corvette C6.R of Olivier Beretta and Oliver Gavin scored the first ALMS victory with E85R ethanol racing fuel.

Celebrating their first ever ALMS GT2 class victory was the Tafel Racing team led by Jim Tafel and Tony Dowe with veteran driver Dirk Mueller and first time winner Dominik Farnbacher. Mueller set the fastest GT2 lap of the race and apparently has the formula for keeping tires clean during the extended caution periods. "I have had Michelin tires since I can't remember when. I probably started racing on Michelin and will probably end with Michelin. I know how to drive them and how to keep them clean. They gave me the grip to make the run on Jorg Bergmeister (#45 Flying Lizard Porsche). I got the advantage out of the turn and out braked him into turn one," said Mueller, who notched his eighth ALMS win to go with several wins and a championship in European competition.

"We are very pleased that our teams were able to take advantage of our new Michelin 'street soft' tires," said Silvia Mammone, Michelin motorsports manager. "The only way to truly test a tire for street races is at the actual events. The successful debut of the Michelin "street soft" tire and the continued success of our traditional tires is a tribute to our Michelin engineers, chemists, tire designers, developers, and our technical partner teams," said Mammone.

The #9 Patron Highcroft Acura of David Brabham and Scott Sharp finished second in LMP2 and third overall and was joined by the #6 Penske Porsche RS Spyder of Patrick Long and Sascha Maassen to complete a Michelin podium sweep in LMP2. Dyson Porsche's Guy Smith and Chris Dyson finished fifth overall while the Andretti Green Acura of Christian Fittipaldi and Bryan Herta placed sixth.

The #46 Flying Lizard Porsche of Johannes van Overbeek and Patrick Pilet finished second in GT2 and was joined on the podium by the impressive #87 Farnbacher Loles Porsche of Dirk Werner and Marc Basseng.

The St Petersburg victories marked the 14th consecutive sweep of all four ALMS classes by Michelin and raise the Michelin victory totals to 87 race wins and 249 class wins in ALMS competition.

-credit: michelin

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Series ALMS
Drivers Guy Smith , Sascha Maassen , Oliver Gavin , Jörg Bergmeister , Timo Bernhard , Patrick Long , Johannes van Overbeek , Romain Dumas , Olivier Beretta , Jim Tafel , Dominik Farnbacher , Marc Basseng , Dirk Werner