A terrific restart with 15 minutes left sent Emanuele Pirro and Frank Biela to victory for the second straight year in the Generac 500 at Road America on Sunday. It was the second American Le Mans Series win in three races for the Audi Sport North America duo following their triumph at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.
“There are more important things in life than winning a race, but I was really, really, really happy,” Pirro said. “This is something I really love doing. This is probably the best race I’ve driven. Driving on the limit the whole race is tough to do and I felt I really did that this race.”
That’s saying something considering Pirro has won at Le Mans four times and now 15 times in the American Le Mans Series. Sunday was a day where it seemed Allan McNish and Dindo Capello would post their sixth LMP1 of the season. The class championship leaders led 42 laps Sunday but came up 0.4 seconds short, the Series’ closest race in five years at Road America.
James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger finished third in the No. 16 Dyson Racing Lola B06/10-AER, just 0.713 seconds behind Pirro and Biela in another stellar Road America finish.
“The car is as nice as it always been. The R10 is following very close to the R8,” Pirro said. “In Le Mans, I wasn’t very familiar with the car but now after the three American races I feel like I can really drive the R10 to the limit. I’m getting comfortable with the car so I’m starting to drive the car to the limit. I think Dindo did too, so I’m very pleased. There wasn’t one single more drop I could have squeezed.”
Biela began the race in the No. 1 Audi R10 TDI but was forced off the surface going into Turn 1 at the start after a tap by Dyson Racing’s James Weaver. But flawless pit work and Pirro’s quick reaction was good enough for a 0.4-second victory over the sister car, the closest in the five-year history of the race.
“Emanuele did a great job. He took a chance at the restart, very good move,” said Biela, the Series’ most successful P1 driver with 20 career wins. “You have to keep in mind, it is a long race. You can’t focus on what happened just what to do. You get to a point you think, ‘OK maybe I do have a chance.’ There are all these other incidents that happened in our favor, but we shouldn’t forget the car was very good. It was really a good effort from the team and from the guys.”