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The "1" in "LMP1" is supposed to signify that this is the top class in the ALMS. But for a good stretch of this season, the top of the podium has featured LMP2 cars, instead. For Audi, long the top P1 team, it is particularly troublesome that German rival Porsche is the team ahead of them during this P1 slump. And as they head to Road America for the next round of the series, they are saying "enough is enough." Audi is telling anyone who will listen that the Porsches are going down. If that sounds cocky, it shouldn't. Audi should be confident here as they've never lost a race at this familiar course in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. The fast track should allow that big diesel to run free and show off all of its torque once again.

Since an LMP2 car has outright won the last five races in a row, the governing body of the ALMS has decided to slow the class down for the 2008 season by adding mandatory weight to each car. Now, if that sounds like the ALMS is helping Audi win, it is. But the rules should favor the LMP1 class to win, and five losses in a row for the class means something is amiss, so a little tweaking is understandable.

Full press release with weekend schedule after the jump.

[Source: Audi Motorsport]

PRESS RELEASE:

Audi aim to end LM P2 cars winning streak

  • Elkhart Lake next stop for the American Le Mans Series
  • Fastest track of the year
  • Audi unbeaten at Road America to date


The Audi R10 TDI has been front page news in the American Le Mans Series since March 2006. With the revolutionary Diesel Sportscar, Audi is also proving just how efficient modern Diesel engines are on the race track. The programme in the world's most important Sportscar racing series is important in paving the way for AUDI AG's forthcoming Diesel offensive in America.

Next stop on the Audi R10 TDI's US tour is Elkhart Lake in Wisconsin state. The 6.563 kilometre (4.048 miles) long "Road America" circuit is the fastest on the American Le Mans Series calendar – and one which the Audi drivers are especially looking forward to.

The Diesel Sportscar, developed specifically for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, is at home on fast circuits. This is why Team Audi Sport North America believes it has the opportunity to beat the preferentially treated LM P2 cars, which recently celebrated five successive overall victories. As a consequence, the LM P2 car's minimum weight has been increased by 50 kilograms by the rule makers for the 2008 season.

Defending ALMS LM P1 Champions Dindo Capello and Allan McNish head to Road America as leaders of the LM P1 drivers' championship. They hold an 18 point lead over their team-mates Emanuele Pirro and Marco Werner. The race starts on Saturday (11 August) at 4.p.m. local time (11 p.m. in Germany) and lasts four hours. An extra three points are awarded due to the longer race distance. Audi is unbeaten at Road America to date.

Quotes before the race at Road America

Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "In Road America we aim to continue with the big victories we recorded at the beginning of the season. However, this is no easy task as we have two handicaps handed out to us by the regulations when compared to the LM P2 cars: the higher weight and smaller fuel tank. We also lose time during the pit stops because diesel flows slower into the tank than gasoline. In spite of this, we'll do everything possible to beat the LM P2 cars – even though there are no points awarded in the American Le Mans Series for doing this."

Dindo Capello (Audi R10 TDI #1): "After having raced at several circuits that didn't quite suit our R10 TDI, we can hardly wait to drive at Road America. We should be capable of extracting the full potential of our Diesel Sportscar there. Our last overall victory was more than four months ago. It's high time that Allan (McNish) and I return to the winner's circle."

Allan McNish (Audi R10 TDI #1): "Road America is a fantastic track that has some very fast sections. It is demanding and you need to be quite courageous. Dindo (Capello) and I love the track. We were very strong there last year, but we nevertheless lost the win to our team-mates just before the finish. That means we have a score to settle at Road America. In view of the way the season's been running up until now, we are very hungry for success."

Emanuele Pirro (Audi R10 TDI #2): "In my opinion, Road America is one of the best circuits on the American Le Mans Series calendar. I really enjoy going back to race there. I have fond memories, not only of our win last year. The battle I had with Tom (Kristensen) in 2002 was even better, and I'll never forget it. At Road America I hope that Audi is finally seen in a more familiar position: right at the front."

Marco Werner (Audi R10 TDI #2): "Every one of us is looking forward to Road America. It's an extremely fast track with one very long straight. Road America is a big challenge for the driver, just how I like it. The R10 TDI is designed and built for Le Mans – and therefore rather more for Road America than for Lime Rock or Mid Ohio. I hope that we can get the R10 TDI right at the front again."

Dave Maraj (Team Director Audi Sport North America): "We lost too much time in the pits at Mid Ohio. We analysed exactly where we can be faster. As a team we do not give up. Even if Porsche has an advantage we want to beat them at Road America. It'll be difficult to repeat last year's one-two finish. But we'll definetly try."

The schedule at Road America

Thursday, 9 August
13:50 – 14:20 Test session (LM P1 / LM P2)
14:20 – 15:20 Test session (all classes)
15:20 – 15:50 Test session (GT1 / GT2)

Friday, 10 August
09:00 – 10:00 Practice 1
13:20 – 14:20 Practice 2
14:30 – 14:50 Qualifying (GT1 / GT2)
15:00 – 15:20 Qualifying (LM P1 / LM P2)

Sunday, 11 August
10:00 – 10:25 Warm-up
16:00 – 20:00 Race


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  • 29 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      @dondonel

      You obviously do not pay any attention to modern sports car racing because if you did you would realize that almost all of the teams in any form of le mans racing that are competitive and winning are getting lots help from the manufacture that they race for. The Penske Porsches are considered a factory team, and the two Acura teams are almost across that line.
      • 7 Years Ago
      What a dilemma for ALMS governing body! What should they do more so that Audi R10 wins for sure next season. More displacement, higher compression wasn't enough for the diesel bullsh!t to win, so I'm guessing next season they'll just hand the cup over to Audi before the race.

      Audi R8/R10 are probably the most successful uncompetitive race cars ever. Audi R8/R10 still can't beat the records set by GT40s 40 years ago! Do you think that 40 years old F1 cars can compete with todays F1 cars?? R8/R10 are an embarassement to racing, and are still in the competition just because Audi is the only real sponsor in endurance racing these days, and can bend the regulations, no matter how ridiculous.
        • 7 Years Ago
        @carluvr

        Really? So why did they let diesels race with a larger displacement than gasoline engines in the first place? Wasn't the higher compression of the diesel an advantage big enough? Audi are the cry babies of the series, no matter how much money they throw in their design they still can't produce a race car.
      • 7 Years Ago
      seems like the underlying problem is that ACO has allowed the P1 and P2 classes to become far too similar. As it stands now, P2 is only marginally smaller/less powerful than P1 and it's difficult to identify which class a given car belongs to unless one of each are in close proximity to each other.
      The fact that ALMS has to step in to level the field across class lines shows to me that the real issue is with the ACO class specifications.
      All that being said, I still love watching ALMS races.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Actually, ACO made the restrictor 15% smaller on LMP2 cars this year so that the LMP2 cars couldn't keep up with the LMP1 cars (i.e. Audis).

        However, ALMS is run by IMSA (which Don Panoz owns), and IMSA decided to break with the ACO on this, much like how they allowed the Maserati MC12 to run two years ago in GT1 despite it not meeting regs.

        ACO doesn't have a car count problem, they've expanded the pits each of the last two years at Le Mans. IMSA however knows that there's no way to win in LMP1 without a Diesel and there is no company that sells Diesels to privateers. And with no Peugeot here, that means only one team can win LMP1 and the overall. So they skipped the 15% restrictor thing and LMP2 can compete effectively for the overall win too.

        So at Le Mans under ACO rules, there's no competition, LMP1 is the fastest, and due to the rules jiggering, you can't beat the Diesels. Under IMSA rules, we get to see some racing. We also get to see that the weight of the Audis really hurts them when trying to compete against gas cars that haven't been increased in weight to match them (the minimum weight in LMP1 was increased about 120 lbs under ACO and IMSA rules so the Diesels wouldn't be 200 lbs too heavy to compete.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Why are there two classes to begin with?
      • 7 Years Ago
      The real problem is that when the ACO designed the two prototype classes they never expected to have two large factory efforts in the lower class that was designed for small privateer teams. The IMSA should stop acting outside the ACO and just let the LMP2 cars continue as they are, until the complete overhaul in 2011.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I thought that P2 was created to challenge the P1 outright, but with a different formula. The LMP1 cars are the most powerful, but they are also heavier than the less powerful and lighter LMP2 cars.

      When the LMP2 cars first started, they were working out the wrinkles and were having troubles, now it seems as though Porsche (big suprise) has figured out their cars and are challenging them the way the creators of the LMP2 class wanted. But now Audi is crying and ALMS is listening to them.
        • 7 Years Ago
        LMP2 was never intended to compete with LMP1, but with the shorter, tighter courses that the ALMS races on the large factory efforts of Porsche and Acura are able to challenge and beat the LMP1 teams.
        • 7 Years Ago
        @Penguin

        There is only one manufacturer team in ALMS, and this is Audi. Porsches and Acuras cars are raced by independent teams, with incomparably smaller budgets than Audi. That these anonymous teams can defeat R10 only shows how uncompetitive the overhyped R10 actually is.
        • 7 Years Ago
        This decision is silly. Why not try LIFTING some of the penalties handed down against Audi? Why not let them have a standard sized fuel tank so they pit less? Why not take away the weight penalty before ADDING a weight penalty to another class?

        In the video game world, this is called 'nerfing' -- you take away all the good things from one side in the name of balance, and when things are unbalanced again, you take away things from the other side. Pretty soon, everyone'll have to drag a trailer full of lead weights behind their cars and they'll only be allowed a litre of fuel at a time.

        There should be fewer restrictions on the cars, especially in what're supposed to be 'unlimited' classes.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I'd hardly call Penske an anonymous team.
        • 7 Years Ago
        dondonel, you could not be more uninformed. Up until 5 races ago, Audi was undefeated. ACO then started to put bigger restrictions on Audi to make the 2 classes more competitve but unfortunately they took too much from Audi and gave too much to the LMP2 class. The have added weight to the Audi's, given smaller fuel tanks so that they have to pit more often and even restricted the flow of diesel into the R10 so now it takes longer to fill the smaller tank. Look at Mid-Ohio, Audi basically won overall but lost due to the penalty that slows the amount of fuel into the R10. They have basically taken away so much from Audi that they have lost 2 races due to smaller fuel tanks and restriction of slower fill up times.......what is this? socialized racing? Tired of Audi always kicking everyone's azz and then giving it away to the LMP2 class? I'm not saying the LMP2 class is not competitive but the LMP1 class is in the "Showcase" class and should not be restricted so much as a less competitive class overtakes them.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Penguin:
        It depends on how you define LMP1 and LMP2.

        When prototypes were created 10 years ago or so, there was LMP and GTP (GTP are closed top cars similar to LMP cars).

        GTP kind of died, but the LMP stayed around.

        The problem was LMP cars were very expensive to make. So a lighter, smaller class was created, LMP675. LMP675 had a smaller motor and car. The smaller frontal area helped compensate for the reduced HP (the 900 and 675 roughly represent the amount of HP the cars were expected to have), and a change in wing location (out back instead of up top) helped reduce drag. The cars could at time compete on equal footing.

        MG/Lolas with turbocharged 2.0L 4s came into LMP675. When MG ran into problems, these cars became Lola/AERs. When they finally became reliable, the Lola/AERs were able to compete with the LMP900 cars (R8s), and the AERs took an overall win in ALMS for the first time at Sears Point.

        Eventually, the R8s came to dominate LMP900 and the Lola/AERs dominated LMP675. The other teams withered. So the formula was changed, and the cars were no longer separated by weight or size, but instead by some mystic formula that seemed to put every team with good financial backing into LMP1 and the shoestring teams (think Miracle Motorsports) into LMP2.

        Now the R8s and AERs were competing in the same class for the win and for the overall. With Audi withdrawing their werks backing, the competition was on, and it was a great couple years if you like close racing.

        Soon though, Audi lobbied the ACO for rules changes and brought out the R10, a car that is impossible to beat with the rules applied to gas engines. There is no vendor of Diesels to privateers, so every team with any aspirations left LMP1 in ALMS (some remain at Le Mans itself, such as Pescarolo) and headed to LMP2.

        With the new good racing in LMP2, the cameras started following the LMP2 cars, and thus the money went there too (the same effect can be seen in GT2 vs GT1 this year). Penske commissioned Porsche to make an LMP2 car and Acura jumped in too, and now there are 5 cars out there in LMP2 competing with each other.

        Anyway, so if you look at it, the 2nd LMP class (LMP675) was designed to compete with the main class, or perhaps (LMP2) it was just made as a sop to low-budget teams.

        Either way, once ACO rigged the rules for Diesels, every team with no access to a competitive Diesel was essentially forced to move out of LMP1 into LMP2. And IMSA took advantage of this to entice moneyed teams into entering LMP2 and providing us with the good racing we couldn't get in LMP1.
        • 7 Years Ago
        @JSacharuk

        What you said is probably the simplest way to resolve the problem, except they can't do that because the Audi has to run under the same restrictions as the Peugeot 908 over in Europe does.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I wonder why ALMS shows concern for P1 when they have allowed GT1 to slide so much? Corvette team is threatening to move to Europe only in 2008 because there is no competition for them to race gainst. Meantime Prodrive wanted to start a 2 car effort this summer in the ALMS but asked for some performace boost in oder t compete with Corvette. ALMS refused o the cars won't come....

      The poblem is the ACO set rulesto favor diesels etc and ALMS tries to even out the cars and adjusts he ACO perfomance regs themselves.
        • 7 Years Ago
        true... i miss the astons (especially the sound)
      • 7 Years Ago
      There are alot of people that don't like Audi for the sole fact that they do win so much. They've got a dynasty going on right now. They don't get loved by many as a result. Yet at the same time many of these people defend the Penske Porsche guys for doing the EXACT same thing. They build the best car within the scope of the rules. You can't handicap one if you are going to defend the other.

      I personally found the Penske team to be a bunch of whiney crybabies in Houston. They got highly offended that I took a picture of their engine and subsequently covered it up. god forbid a fan should actually care! I don't anymore as a result. The Audi guys on the other hand were very friendly and how no problems with taking pictures or posing for them. That's how it should be. Most other teams were nice too. Porsche is too stuck up and arrogant for their own good.

      LMP1 is supposed to be the fastest class followed by LMP2, GT1 and GT2 respectively. Yes the LMP2 cars are lighter and less powerful. Their power to weight ratio is supposed to still be a little less. Go to Mulsannes Corner to see the rules.

      I understand that Audi is not happy with losing and I do love their car. Anyone who says they can't build a good race car or says the R8 and R10 can't touch a GT40 is either joking or just plain stupid. I vote for the latter. If they can't build a good race car and they suck so bad, their win streak must mean that EVERY other car out there is downright pathetic. Audi builds great race cars and it shows. Too bad I'm not a big fan of their street cars and feel they are too pricey. That doesn't mean they aren't a good company though.

      Their biggest issue and they will admit this is that the car is designed for long fast courses. It isn't well suited for short tight tracks and this is where it hasn't done as well. It's a relatively heavy car with alot of weight at the rear. It also has a fairly long wheelbase. The smaller lighter cars will always be more at home on a smaller tighter course as a result. Physics states it's harder to slow down and turn a longer, heavier car. The R8 was better suited to the smaller tracks than the R10.

      People can hate on Audi all they want. Don't say they don't build good race cars because their track record proves otherwise in a most impressive way. Don't hate the car just because it's a diesel. Diesel does have it's advantages over gasoline but it comes at the expense of something else. You need to balance the good with the bad. If you hate diesels for their power, blame the ACO for making the rules that way. 2 years ago there were no diesel cars. The whole intention of creating rules that favored them was to promote someone to develop and actually build one. It worked. Now we've got 2. After you get those cars out there, then you evaluate their performance and try to level them out with other cars in the same class. That's the reason we have rules. It's to keep the playing field level. They are still working out the kinks with the diesel regulations. Saying that, the LMP1 cars should still be faster than LMP2 cars. The only reason and LMP2 car should win is because an LMP1 car either broke or wrecked. That's the way it's always been intended.


        • 7 Years Ago
        Mr. Duran. The weight change in LMP1 was the same year as the R10 debuted. It was FOR Audi, because the weight of the Diesel engine meant they couldn't compete with the much lighter gas cars.

        The reduction in fuel capacity was this year, and it was because despite Diesel fuel containing 15% more energy per liter, the Diesels were given 11% more fuel than a gas car! Because of this, Audi could go 20-30% more laps than the nearest car in their class on a single tank. That ensured Diesel victory and needed to be corrected. So the tank in the Diesels is now 9% smaller than a gas car, which is closer to even.
      • 7 Years Ago
      @carluvr

      Really?? then why did they allow diesels to race with a higher displacement than gasoline engines in the first place? Wasn't the higher compression ration of the diesel an advantage big enough? Audi are the cry babies of the series, no matter how much money they throw in this design they still don't have a race car. Fixing the rules seems to be their only expertise so far.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Dondonel, do you even know how diesel engines work? To get the same hp, you have to have a larger displacement. To have larger displacement, you also increase weight more than a gasoline engine. So even with the same hp output, the diesel is at a disadvantage.
        • 7 Years Ago
        dondonel,

        You are hopelessly ill informed. Audi had the rules changed on them after they designed a car for the old rules. They were winning too many races under the old rules so a rule change was put in place that reduced their fuel capacity and bumped up their weight. Audi still have managed to stay extremely competitive even with the rule change.

        Higher compression ratio is required for a diesel because of the way that diesels work not because it would give them a horsepower advantage. Diesels generally have lower hp than a gas engine of equivalent displacement so the rule change was applied.
      • 7 Years Ago
      There will be a Maserati MC12 running in GT1 for the race at Road America.

        • 7 Years Ago
        They're not ready, won't be close to the 'Vettes when they're fresh out of the box.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Sure, Penske gets support from Porsche. Porsche sells a few million dollars worth of cars to them. But calling Penske a manufacturer team is total nonsense.
        • 7 Years Ago
        You're off base. Porsche didn't sell those cars to Penske, they signed Penske to manage the team. It is a factory effort.
        • 7 Years Ago
        The IMSA lists the Penske Porsches as a factory team along with Corvette Racing, and Audi Sport North America.
        • 7 Years Ago
        The above replay was addressed to Penguin that earlier said: "You obviously do not pay any attention to modern sports car racing because if you did you would realize that almost all of the teams in any form of le mans racing that are competitive and winning are getting lots help from the manufacture that they race for. The Penske Porsches are considered a factory team, and the two Acura teams are almost across that line."
      • 7 Years Ago
      the race is saturday, you have it listed as sunday.
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