Audis roll on again in Generac 500 at Road America
Audi scored its second straight 1-2 finish in the 2008 American Le Mans Series with Marco Werner and Lucas Luhr taking a 2.463-second victory Saturday in the Generac 500 presented by Time Warner Cable. Diesel power won overall at Road America for the first time since 2006 as Werner crossed the finish line just ahead of teammate Marcel Fassler.
Werner passed race leader David Brabham on Road America's long frontstretch for the lead with 20 minutes left. TDI Power ran down the Acura in the waning moments as two late yellow flags played into Audi's hands, just as it did two weeks ago at Mid-Ohio.
Werner and Luhr won for the sixth time this season in LMP1 and fourth time overall. Luhr qualified on the overall pole position as Audi won overall at Road America for the first time since 2006. The R10 TDIs also won back-to-back overall races for the first time in two years. Fsssler teamed with Emanuele Pirro in the second Audi entry.
"It was an exciting race and wasn't as easy as it looked especially after the second-to-last yellow," Werner said. "It was really difficult to pass the Acuras but the traffic helped me get a little closer and then TDI power helped me overtake them. After that everything was really nice."
The winning duo led 65 of 102 laps.
Intersport Racing led overall early thanks to a strong drive early from Jon Field. The Lola B06/10-AER of Field, son Clint and Richard Berry finished third in class and seventh overall.
"The season so far has been very good," Luhr said. "We had an unlucky race at Sebring but we came back strong at St. Petersburg and Long Beach. No one expected us to be as strong there after last year. The same thing can be said for Lime Rock and Mid-Ohio. Today we did everything right and I think we were fastest in every session. We totally deserved to win this one."
Brabham and Scott Sharp scored their third LMP2 victory of the season for Patron Highcroft Racing and Acura, thanks in large part to Franck Montagny's crash in the Andretti Green Racing Acura with 11 minutes remaining. Montagny, who teamed with James Rossiter, tried to dive down to the inside of a slower GT2 Aston Martin at the end of the long backstretch.
Neither car made it back around.
Late-race strategy by the Patron Highcroft team meant Brabham led overall with 14 minutes before Luhr's mighty blast from third to first. The team called the car on three straight yellow laps to top of with fuel to make certain the car could make the last 63 minutes on fuel. The plan nearly worked to perfection were it not for one final caution period with 34 minutes left that brought the Audis within striking distance.
"It was really hard to keep in front of the Audis because they are so strong on the straights," Brabham said. "I had to let them and Franck go and my main concern there was keeping the Porsches behind me, which we did. I think it was possible to have Acuras finish 1-2 but we managed to pick up the pieces."
Defending overall race winners Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas finished second in P2 and fourth overall, just 0.867 seconds behind Brabham. Dyson Racing scored its first podium finish since Sebring with Butch Leitzinger and Marino Franchitti coming home third in class in their Porsche RS Spyder.
"It was strange seeing the car coming in lap after lap as the last of the chasers," Sharp said. "But we were in the right position. We picked a really great time to come in. I have a tremendous teammate no doubt who helps me a lot and is amazingly quick. We were hoping to just win one race this year. So far we have three and can get at least one more."
Johnny O'Connell and Jan Magnussen won in GT1 in Corvette Racing's No. 3 Corvette C6.R after the dominating sister crashed out with 52 minutes remaining. Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta had dominated the race up until that point and led the entire way before Gavin inexplicably went off track on the long backstretch.
Up until that point, the duo of Beretta and Gavin were on pace for their second straight victory together at the circuit.
"It was a shame but it was a good race," Magnussen said. "All I saw is that he got a little loose into the Kink and hit the outside wall. We had a problem in the middle of the race and I had to make an unscheduled stop to solve the problem. I think I had picked up something on the tires because of the safety cars. I had a funny feeling in the rear of the car. We did that, came back out and the car was really good. Although the other car was really strong, we knew we had a good chance to win because we had to make one less stop to the end."
O'Connell and Magnussen won for the sixth time in seven races but certainly no finish was as bizarre or unexpected as this. They were a full lap ahead of Terry Borcheller and Chapman Ducote in Bell Motorsports' Aston Martin DBR9.
"Things have really gone our way this year," said O'Connell, who ranks second in the Series with 34 career victories. "Last year was a matter of everything going against us. We were in the pits longer but I think it would have gone our way in the end. That's just how it has worked out all season."
Farnbacher Loles Racing took its maiden GT2 victory in the Series with a tense, late-race win for Dirk Werner, Richard Westbrook and Bryce Miller in their Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. Werner got around Risi Competizione's Mika Salo and his Ferrari F430 GT at the start of the last lap and watched the Finn spin when he tried a daring overtaking maneuver in the sharp left-handed Turn 5.
The German went on to win by 7.345 seconds over Flying Lizard Motorsports' Wolf Henzler, who teamed with fellow class championship leader Jorg Bergmeister. Tafel Racing's Dirk Mueller and Dominik Farnbacher finished third in class and another 3.641 seconds back.
"The car was fantastic today and the team deserves it," Miller said. "The last couple of laps were amazing driving by Dirk."
The Farnbacher Loles team finished as runner-up at Lime Rock two rounds ago and third in the season's second race at St. Petersburg. Werner said he thought it was only a matter of time before the team broke through.
The Farnbacher Loles Porsche came back from a mid-race penalty for speeding in pit lane but it turned into a blessing as the race wore on as it became more obvious that the team had an advantage when it came to fuel and pit strategy. It set up the thrilling finish as Werner moved from fifth to second on the final stop.
"On the last lap I knew I had to try something and I think Mika's team car blocked him," Werner said. "The next three corners were amazing because he was on my bumper the whole way. I think he was desperate and saw an advantage at Turn 5. He tried to brake later than I did but ended up spinning out.
"I'm really glad to get our first win the Series," he added. "The team really works great together and we were so close in the past. We have been right there since Sebring, and the steps that Porsche made in the offseason have allowed us to contend for wins."
The next round of the American Le Mans Series is the Mobil 1 presents Grand Prix of Mosport on Sunday, August 24 from Mosport International Raceway just outside of Toronto. The race will start at 3:05 p.m. ET with live television coverage on SPEED. XM Satellite Radio will air the race live on XM Channel 166. Live radio coverage also will be available from American Le Mans Radio at americanlemans.com, which also will feature IMSA's Live Timing & Scoring.
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