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Audi threatens to pull out of ALMS On 20 August, the Audi Sport squad is busy on "two fronts” once again: While the second-half of the DTM season starts at the Nürburgring, the American Le Mans Series at Road America (USA) already enters its crucial phase at the seventh round of the ten race championship. Dindo Capello and Allan McNish have a 39-point lead before the race in Wisconsin. The two Audi drivers could actually make a decisive early step towards clinching the title there.
However, this will be tough challenge: The American Le Mans Series organizers are attempting to stop the revolutionary Audi R10 TDI prototype’s winning streak by making the competition even more new concessions. At Road America the LM P1 Lolas entered by the Dyson team can race with 65 kilograms less than the Audi R10 TDI. Furthermore, from the following race at Mosport, the Dyson Lolas will be granted a five-liter larger fuel tank. That’s why Audi’s further participation in the American Le Mans Series is under discussion.
The Audi Sport engineers have calculated with computer simulation that ten kilograms at Road America is worth at least two-tenths-of-a-second per lap. Despite being deeply disappointed about the random decisions of the IMSA organization, the Audi Sport North America team would nevertheless like do everything in its power to achieve a good result also at Road America. The layout of the 4.048-mile circuit approximately 60 miles north of Milwaukee should suit the R10 TDI. It is one of the most fluid and fastest on the calendar.
The predecessor of the R10 TDI, the R8, was in a class of its own at Road America and remained unbeaten at every race there between 2002 and 2005. Last year’s winners Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro are only two-points behind third placed driver Andy Wallace (Dyson Lola) in the overall standings despite having sat out three races. Dindo Capello won in 2002 at Road America, while the circuit in Wisconsin is new territory for Allan McNish. The race starts at on Sunday, 20 August at 2:00 p.m. local time (9:00 p.m. in Germany) and runs over the classic distance of 2:45 hours.
Quotes before the race at Road America
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "To us, the recent regulation changes made by IMSA appear to have been made at random and are unjustified. A year ago hardly anybody could believe that it would be possible to win a race with a diesel powered sportscar. We demonstrated that it is feasible, and thanks to ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’ we produced the world’s most state-of-the-art LM P1. We can not accept that our life will now be made artificially difficult. Audi, the manufacturer, which has supported and promoted the ALMS for years and helped to make it what it is today, will only continue its American Le Mans Series program if there are again stable and consistent rules, like at Le Mans, which also contribute towards justifying manufacturer’s involvement and expenditure.” Audi PR
[Editor's Note: What a blow it would be to the ALMS if Audi were to pull out. This is what happens when manufacturers are given too much power in a race series and the series becomes beholden to them. We saw this in CART and we saw this in many other race series over the years. Audi only has two cars in the ALMS. If ALMS were smart they would not cave into their demands and tell them to "not let the door hit you in the back on the way out." If they don't stand up to the manufacturers, they will lose control of their destiny.]
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