Audi faces hot battle in Utah
Following the 12 Hours of Sebring and three successive street races, the Audi R10 TDI faces yet another big challenge in the USA: Quite possibly the hottest race on the 2007 American Le Mans Series calendar held at the Miller Motorsports Park some 30 miles west of Salt Lake City (US state of Utah) awaits the Audi Sport North America team on Saturday (19 May). Temperatures exceeding 30 degrees Celsius in the shade are forecast in the desert in Utah. However, the 24-turn 4.486-mile track - the longest in the USA - offers no such respite from the burning heat. Audi celebrated a narrow victory with the R10 TDI in last year's hot battle in the cauldron close to Salt Lake City. After suffering two unlucky defeats at the hands of the significantly lighter LM P2 cars in Long Beach and Houston, Team Audi Sport North America aims to bounce back by repeating last year's victory.
Dindo Capello (Italy) and Allan McNish (Scotland) arrive as championship leaders in Utah. Their team mates Emanuele Pirro (Italy) and Marco Werner (Germany), for whom Miller Motorsports Park is new territory, are only eight points behind.
For Audi the fifth round of the American Le Mans Series is also the final sportscar race before the Le Mans 24 Hours on 16 / 17 June. Practice in Utah starts on Thursday. The race starts on Saturday at 5:05 p.m. (1:05 a.m. Sunday morning in Germany) and runs into the dusk.
Quotes before the race at Salt Lake City
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "The weekend at Salt Lake City last year was very interesting. The circuit was brand new at that time and it wasn't easy for the drivers to orientate. The track has many different types of corners and also a long straight. Our R10 TDI functioned quite well there last year. Tracks which should suit us even better are still to come. After three street races in succession the entire team is really looking forward to getting back to work on a ‘normal' race track."
Dindo Capello (Audi R10 TDI #1): "Allan (McNish) and I still have a score to settle with Salt Lake City. We were extremely unlucky there last year: We led from the beginning, but a puncture ten minutes before the end of the race cost us victory. I hope we'll be luckier this year. I'm delighted to be able to race on such a fantastic track where our R10 TDI can demonstrate its potential more easily than around a street circuit Allan McNish (Audi R10 TDI #1): "Each and every one of us is looking forward to driving on a ‘real' circuit again. We are just more familiar with the R10 TDI on such circuits. Also, the street races are quite turbulent and unpredictable. We were very fast at Salt Lake City last year. We already had a 40-second lead before getting a puncture. However, we shouldn't forget that Porsche set the fastest race lap with an LM P2 car and that Acura/Honda is getting stronger and stronger. I'm expecting that we'll have to fight hard again to win the race."
Emanuele Pirro (Audi R10 TDI #2): "At last another great, real race track! We've spent enough time driving between walls. Salt Lake City is a great facility; the track is fantastic, new and long. I can hardly wait to drive the R10 TDI there. There is a long straight and the circuit has many fast corners which suit our car. For me, the championship only really starts at Salt Lake City, because the main priority at the street races was to finish the races and collect points."
Marco Werner (Audi R10 TDI #2): "Salt Lake City is yet another race weekend during which I'll have to learn a new circuit. I've heard that the circuit is interesting - and demanding as far as finding the ideal line is concerned. Fortunately we have a little more practice time here than at the previous races. I'm looking forward to see what's in store for me."
Dave Maraj (Team Director Audi Sport North America): "We are happy to be racing again at a real race track - without concrete walls. Our car is designed and built for such circuits, not for street races. Of course we'll do our best at Salt Lake City."
The Utah Grand Prix schedule
Thursday, 17 May
18:30 - 19:00 Test session (LM P1 / LM P2)
19:00 - 20:00 Test session (all classes)
20:00 - 20:30 Test session (GT1 / GT2)
Friday, 18 May
10:15 - 11:15 Practice 1
14:30 - 15:30 Practice 2
15:40 - 16:00 Qualifying (GT1 / GT2)
16:10 - 16:30 Qualifying (LM P1 / LM P2)
Saturday, 19 May
09:00 - 09:30 Warm-up
17:05 - 19:50 Race AUDI PR