Pirro hopes to recapture Utah magic
Now, says Emanuele Pirro, the championship hunt is on. With a stretch of three consecutive street races having come and gone, Pirro and Marco Werner are ready to get back to business as the American Le Mans Series returns to road-course racing and Miller Motorsports Park for the Utah Grand Prix.
“We’ve spent enough time driving between walls,” said Pirro, who will drive one of Audi Sport North America’s two diesel-powered Audi R10 TDIs with Werner. “Salt Lake City is a great facility; the track is fantastic, new and long. 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.”
Mission accomplished through four rounds. After winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans last year, Pirro and Werner reunited with Frank Biela to win overall at Sebring in March and then finished as the overall runner-up two weeks later at St. Petersburg. They have finished second in P1 the past two races to Audi mates and championship leaders Allan McNish and Dindo Capello but were well outside the overall top-five at both. The fortunes of racing had their way with the Pirro/Werner duo; Pirro was spun from behind while leading at Long Beach and Werner was charging through the field early at Houston before going off course and damaging the Audi’s rear end while running in the top three.
“It started in the best possible way with the Sebring win,” Pirro said of 2007. “We were all looking forward to the three street circuits. We were competitive and were strong on the street circuits and competing for a win but it didn’t work out. What makes me feel good is that we had good performances there.”
Now it’s back to friendlier surroundings. Pirro held off a hard-charging Lucas Luhr for a 0.318-second victory with Biela last year at Miller Motorsports Park. Pirro likes the European feel of the circuit – 4.5 miles and 24 turns.
“It’s a technical circuit,” he said. “The track itself is good because of the corners; there isn’t one that is like the others. It’s not an easy race track for sure. You have a nice long straight and you have to work really hard on the infield. I’m really, really happy to be back here.”
The next round of the American Le Mans Series is the Utah Grand Prix, set for 5:05 p.m. MT on Saturday, May 19 from Miller Motorsports Park near Salt Lake City. It will air live on XM Satellite Radio’s Sports Nation channel. CBS Sports will air the race at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 20. MotorsTV in Europe, SPEED Latin America and 7TV in Russia also will provide international coverage. American Le Mans Radio and IMSA’s Live Timing and Scoring will be available at americanlemans.com.