The thrilling duel of the diesel sports cars from Audi and Peugeot had spectators watching with bated breath again at the 13th edition of the “Petit Le Mans” race at Road Atlanta (U.S. state of Georgia). For more than six hours Audi had good prospects of clinching its tenth triumph at the American endurance classic. But after an unusual incident all that remained in the end was the eleventh consecutive “Petit Le Mans” podium.
- Unfortunate third place at “Petit Le Mans” race
- Unusual incident costs crucial lap
- Second Audi R15 TDI lost ground due to accident
For six hours the lead kept changing between Audi and Peugeot in front of a record crowd. Dindo Capello, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish in the car that won this year’s Le Mans 24 Hour managed to repeatedly achieve a small lead. But at 17:51 hrs (local time), exactly 6 hours and 21 minutes after the race had started, Dindo Capello, who was leading at that time, had to come in for an unscheduled pit stop because an insert in his helmet prescribed by the regulations had come loose and the fireproof balaclava started to cover his eyes. Without being able to see anything, Capello had to let the Peugeot behind him pass and head for the pits in a blind flight.
Afterwards Audi Sport Team Joest tried everything to make up the lost lap again. But the picture during the remaining hours of the race was similar as it had been before: the two Audi R15 TDI and the two Peugeot 908 cars drove comparable lap times and were running without the slightest problems so that it was impossible to recover the gap. Dindo Capello, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish ultimately had to settle for third place.
The second Audi R15 TDI with Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoît Treluyer was running in a promising third place during the early phase of the race. Due to a small slip at the beginning of the second hour Marcel Fässler lost third place to the second Peugeot. More serious was the mistake which André Lotterer made an hour later: while attempting to pass an LMP2 vehicle in the fast “S-turns” Lotterer came off the track. Although the repair of the R15 TDI that was heavily damaged mainly at the front only took 15 laps, it caused the squad of car number “8” to hopelessly lose ground. From 21st place the runners-up of the 2010 Le Mans 24 Hours still managed to push forward to sixth place overall and fifth in the LMP1 class.
Despite the unfortunate outcome of the U.S. race for Audi the decision in the inaugural season of the Le Mans Intercontinental Cup (ILMC) will only be made at the finale at Zhuhai on November 7. Audi has a gap of 36 points in the LMP1 manufacturers’ class. A total of 48 points are yet to be awarded in China.
- Audi Motorsport | Photos: © 2010 Corey Beaman | oneighturbo.com