After a seven-week break, the American Le Mans Series continues in the middle of July with back-to-back races: At Lime Rock (Connecticut) and Mid-Ohio (Ohio) the world’s fastest sportscar contest two races within eight days on 12 and 19 July.
The Audi R10 TDI celebrates a small anniversary at Lime Rock: The revolutionary diesel sportscar, which just won the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans for a third time in succession, developed by AUDI AG contests its 30th race on the circuit located 110 miles northeast of New York City.
The two cars fielded by Audi Sport North America were brought up to the latest technical specification during the break. A modified bodywork, which has already proven itself in the European based Le Mans Series, is part of the package.
Through its American Le Mans Series program, Audi prepares the diesel offensive on the US market. In the meantime, the low-sulphur content fuel required to run the TDI engines is now available nationwide. Audi launches the world’s cleanest diesel with an ultra-low emission system onto the USA market this year. It meets the world’s most stringent exhaust emission standard – the LEV-II Bin-5 norm, which is law in the US states of California and New York.
The American Le Mans Series organizers continue to place greater emphasis on alternative fuels and the development of more economical and environmentally friendly engines. In 2008, the series cooperates for the first time with the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which has developed criteria for so-called "Green Racing" together with SAE International. The use of Bio fuels and various power concepts, energy recovery systems and the reduction of emissions are also included in the list of criteria. The American Le Mans Series is the first race series to fulfill these criteria and is therefore well ahead of other motorsport categories.
Clean combustion, low consumption
During the 2008 season, fuels containing a minimum 10 per cent of bio components (E10) are stipulated for spark ignition engines for the first time. As an option, E85 which consists of up to 85 per cent ethanol can even be used. Both Biofuels reduce CO2 emissions, but have, however, the disadvantage that alcohol has a significantly inferior calorific value than traditional gasoline. The consumption of E85 increases by up to 30 per cent as a result.
The advantage of "Clean Diesel", as used by Audi, is even more apparent: Shell GTL Diesel is used in the American Le Mans Series. GTL (Gas-to-Liquid) is extracted from natural gas. The synthetic diesel fuel reduces consumption and burns extremely cleanly.
"With the R10 TDI, Audi created the basis for what is now happening in the American Le Mans Series," stresses Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich. "We were the pioneers and welcome the Green Racing initiative."
In this context the Audi R10 TDI continues to set the standards: The near 650-hp V12 TDI engine actually consumes significantly less than a comparable spark ignition engine. The combustion process is particularly efficient as a result of extremely high injection-pressures of approximately 2,000 bar. This sinks the consumption and reduces pollutants. Furthermore the engine is extremely quiet.
Lucas Luhr and Marco Werner, who have already celebrated two overall victories in the American Le Mans Series this year, come to Lime Rock as LM P1 class leaders. The two Italians Dindo Capello and Emanuele Pirro form a driver team for the first time at the wheel of the second Audi R10 TDI.
Capello is the most successful driver in the American Le Mans Series with 26 victories, won the LM P1 Drivers’ Championship together with Allan McNish in 2006 and 2007 and now celebrates a US comeback. The defending Champion replaces five-time Le Mans winner and double ALMS Champion Frank Biela whose driver contract with AUDI AG had foreseen races in the 2008 American Le Mans Series only prior the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Facts & figures
The Audi driver line-up at Lime Rock and Mid-Ohio #1 Dindo Capello / Emanuele Pirro #2 Lucas Luhr / Marco Werner
Marco Werner about Lime Rock: "Lime Rock has been modified since last year and is slower as a result. On one hand this a shame because the old flat-out sections have disappeared. However, on the other hand the run-off areas were no longer up-to-date for quick prototypes and the circuit was a little hairy."
Lucas Luhr about Mid-Ohio: "Mid Ohio isn’t exactly my kind of circuit. There aren’t any really fast corners there. The circuit doesn’t really suit our R10 TDI. We’ll really have our work cut out there against the lighter LM P2 cars."
In the 29 races to date, the Audi R10 TDI has scored 15 wins ... The Diesel sportscar is unbeaten in the LM P1 class to date at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and in the American Le Mans Series ... Audi celebrated the R8’s last victory at Lime Rock in 2006 ... Audi last took overall victory at Mid-Ohio during the 2004 season ... Capello celebrated his 44th birthday on Monday after the 24 Hours of Le Mans ... Lucas Luhr is 29 years old on Tuesday after Mid Ohio
The schedule at Lime Rock
Friday, 11 July 10:45 – 11:45 Free Practice 1 14:45 – 15:45 Free Practice 2 15:55 – 16:15 Qualifying (GT cars) 16:20 – 16:40 Qualifying (Prototypes)
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