Audi prevails at Mosport
To say the race was a classic wouldnâ€™t be an overstatement. Luhr pitted from the overall lead just before the two-hour mark and re-entered the race in eighth place with 45 minutes to go. What ensued was a mad dash to the checkered flag in a frantic finish as Luhr diced his way through the high-speed Mosport traffic.
â€śMy fingernails are a little shorter,â€ť said Werner, whose opening stint included a hit on the pit wall when he exited his pit stall. â€śEvery time you sit in the pits, you are closer to a heart attack than when you are in the car.
â€śIn the beginning I didnâ€™t know if it would affect the car because we were under yellow,â€ť Werner added about his tap. â€śWe felt a little understeer and on cold tires I had no grip. It was really a shame. Everything did work out though.â€ť
The early part of the weekend for Audi was as hectic as the traffic. The crew for Luhr and Werner had to replace the Audi tub when a piece of the track surface came loose and made a hole in the chassis in Fridayâ€™s test session.
The teamâ€™s work paid off. After Werner qualified second to Pirroâ€™s teammate Dindo Capello, the Luhr/Werner tandem combined to lead 75 of the 127 laps. They have won seven straight LMP1 rounds and lead in the championship by 66 points.
â€śWe made up about 30 seconds in the last part of the race,â€ť Luhr said. â€śIf thatâ€™s what it takes to win, then we do it. Itâ€™s always really tough (with the slower cars and traffic). They are racing and we are racing. I saw two or three GT cars racing while I was trying to catch the leader. I canâ€™t waste time or tires and itâ€™s not easy to find the right way. We didnâ€™t touch anyone today so we did OK.â€ť
Intersport Racingâ€™s trio of Jon Field, Clint Field and Richard Berry placed third in P1 in their Lola B06/10-AER.
Fernandez and Luis Diaz finished second in class with Penskeâ€™s Sascha Maassen and Patrick Long placing third.
â€śHow the race panned out I have no idea,â€ť Brabham said. â€śI didnâ€™t know Gil was leading when he ran out of fuel. My main concern was getting past Fernandez toward the end. I think he was trying to save fuel as well. It was fantastic racing. We were passing backward and forward. It was a joy to be a part of it.â€ť
Unlike their Acura counterparts at de Ferran Motorsports, the fuel strategy paid off for PatrÂ˘n Highcroft. Brabham drove the final hour on a tank of fuel as he had to balance conservation with the speed he needed to fight Dumas and Fernandez.
The victory also closed the gap in the class championship. The Porsche RS Spyder of Dumas and Timo Bernhard ran out of fuel on the last lap, meaning a sixth-place class finish. Brabham and Sharp trail the defending class champions by 10 points.
â€śI think weâ€™ve had the mindset to keep it going,â€ť Sharp said. â€śEverywhere we show up weâ€™re pretty competitive. We donâ€™t think there is a track where we donâ€™t think we have a chance of winning. The Porsches were getting some great fuel mileage and Davidâ€™s run really saved some fuel.â€ť
Johnny Oâ€™Connell and Jan Magnussen won for the second straight year in GT1, going flag-to-flag in their Corvette C6.R. Corvette Racingâ€™s championship-leading duo was fastest in every session this week including qualifying.
â€śIt was a difficult race because the prototypes were so fast,â€ť Magnussen said. â€śThey would pass us every six or seven laps it felt like. The race to us wasnâ€™t about the ultimate lap time but being smart in traffic. I was very happy with our guys who helped us know who was coming. We didnâ€™t have a scratch on our car and were able to put some time on the second car.â€ť
That second Corvette of Olivier Beretta and Oliver Gavin finished second, 22.446 seconds behind the winning C6.R. Bell Motorsports finished third in class. Terry Borcheller and Chapman Ducote ended two laps down and third in GT1.
Oâ€™Connell won for the sixth time at Mosport since 1999, and Magnussen is now a three-time winner there. They won overall at Mosport 10 years ago in a Panoz factory prototype.
â€śThis was an amazing race. The history of this place is magical and for us to compete here is a very cool deal to be a part of history,â€ť Oâ€™Connell said. â€śWe had a really good weekend for both cars. Here, one of your biggest concerns is traffic and how psychotic the P2 cars and P1 cars are. But they were all pretty respectful and I think it showed.â€ť
â€śThe car was really great and itâ€™s the first weekend this year where weâ€™ve had no problems at all,â€ť Salo said. â€śThe car was as good as it could have been from the first lap. It was easy driving in this car. If we pushed, the Farnbacher Loles car was a second a lap slower. It was a matter of staying out of trouble. Passing is tough here because the only place to do it is on the backstretch.â€ť
At a track where incidents can happen often, Melo and Salo drove a perfect race for what seems like the first time this year in the Series. They won eight times last season â€“ including at Mosport - on their way to the class championship. Their only other victory this year was at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
â€śItâ€™s amazing after a very tough year,â€ť Melo admitted. â€śWe showed that we are very competitive at every race but we couldnâ€™t finish on the top position. We finally got it. Itâ€™s something weâ€™ve known weâ€™d be able to do all week. The Michelin tires were amazing and we could turn very good lap times. It was a good race all day with many cars. Iâ€™m really happy to be on the top of the podium.â€ť
Werner and Pierre Kaffer finished second in the Farnbacher Loles Racing Porsche. Class championship leaders JĂ¶rg Bergmeister and Wolf Henzler finished third for Flying Lizard Motorsports in their Porsche.
There isnâ€™t much time to rest. The next round of the American Le Mans Series is the Detroit Sports Car Challenge presented by Bosch. The race from Belle Isle in Detroit is scheduled for 2:35 p.m. ET on Saturday, August 30. SPEED will broadcast the race live, and XM will air it from 5 to 8 p.m. ET on Sunday, August 31. Qualifying will be shown live online starting at 4:35 p.m. ET on Friday, August 29 on americanlemans.com and SPEEDtv.com. American Le Mans Radio will have live coverage of all on-track sessions at americanlemans.com, which also will feature IMSAâ€™s Live Timing & Scoring.
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