Pirro, Biela Lead Amazing Audi 1-2 Finish at Road America + Results


Emanuele Pirro and Frank Biela won for the second year in a row at Road America.
Courtesy of the American Le Mans Series

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."

In LMP2, Timo Bernhard and Sascha Maassen earned their first victory as a tandem as the No. 6 Penske Racing Porsche RS Spyder beat teammates Lucas Luhr and Sascha Maassen to the line by just 0.15 seconds. The victory moved Maassen into the class drivers championship lead by 2 points over Clint Field and Liz Halliday of Intersport Racing, which finished third.

This was the first race this season that Maassen and Luhr were in separate cars. They entered Sunday tied for second in the championship, but team and Porsche officials decided to maximize the chances of o­ne of their drivers winning the title and assigned Maassen with Bernhard and Luhr with Romain Dumas.

"It obviously was a surprise to us that we were separated," Maassen said. "It just made sense to Porsche to give o­ne of us a better chance to win the championship. We can still share, but it is like it is at the moment."

The Luhr/Dumas Porsche had taken the overall race lead at the 1:30-minute mark and had led P2 from the start. But o­n a race restart, Dumas was penalized for passing the pace car as the green flag came out. Bernhard took the lead for good to give Penske its maiden win at Road America.

"At Porsche and Penske this is the first time competing in LMP2 for the full championship," Maassen said. "When you put up for the whole championship, you're not in it for second. That has been the goal. Now that I am leading I think we are o­n our way to doing that."

After more than a year of near misses, Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell finally returned to Victory Circle with a hard-earned victory in GT1, their first in the Series at Road America. The duo finished a full lap ahead of Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta in the sister Corvette for their first Series win since Infineon last year.

"I first raced here in 1986 and I've had more second-place finishes than they have bratwursts around this place," O'Connell said. "Ron did an amazing job qualifying here. Really since Portland last year there have been many races that should have gone our way, so it's nice to have some things going our way. We just had a beautiful race car."

Team pit strategy and a timely yellow made the difference. Fellows pitted for the second time at the 1:12 mark after a stellar battle with Gavin and the two Aston Martin Racing entries. The No. 4 sister car pitted 20 minutes later, but by the time the final caution flag flew, O'Connell was a full lap up o­n the other Corvette.

Tomas Enge and Darren Turner finished third, o­n the same lap as Gavin and Beretta. The No. 007 Aston Martin was running in second place following the third caution when the car suffered a flat tire with 10 minutes remaining.

"It was a great race and good fun," Fellows said. "We just had to be patient. The longer we ran the better our car got. From the Carousel down to Canada Corner, our car definitely was better and I think that's where the Aston Martins felt some pressure. When the last caution came out, it was very timely. That's the kind of luck we've been short of, and it finally went our way."

In the championship standings, Beretta and Gavin lead Fellows and O'Connell by 12 points, with Enge and Turner another 3 points back.

A year after starting its run to the GT2 championship, Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing started what may be another push to a repeat. Jorg Bergmeister drove the team's Porsche 911 GT3 RSR to a 4.237-second win over Joey Hand for Petersen/White Lightning's third win in four years at Road America. Bergmeister and Patrick Long also won last year at Road America as well.

Bergmeister made a quick stop for fuel and tires at the 2:13 mark and appeared he would coast to the win. But with 13 minutes left, Bergmeister went off at The Carousel (Turn 6) and fell about three seconds behind Hand in BMW Team PTG's No. 21 BMW M3. It took him five minutes to get back around Hand, but not before another harrowing moment when he ran into the back of o­ne of the Audis. That knocked a hole in the Porsche's radiator, but the car made it to the end.

"I don't know how lucky we were today," said Bergmeister, who has won at Road America four times in five races. "I don't know what happened (at the Carousel). I managed to get through the gravel and get back o­n the track. As soon as I decided to get past the BMW, the Audi decided to stop in Turn 5 and I tapped it from behind. It ended up busting our radiator. The fluid was dripping o­n the front brake and tires. I think we had a couple of laps left, though."

Bergmeister took over from Long, who spent his opening stint battling Mike Rockenfeller in the Alex Job Racing Porsche, who finished third in class with Marcel Tiemann. It was Long last year who waged a late-race duel with Dumas in the AJR Porsche and held o­n for a 0.298-second win, the Series' closest finish in GT2. This time, Long was reduced to spectator at the finish.

"I had (team owner) Michael (Petersen) and (engineer) Frank (Funke) o­n both sides of me," Long said. "We brought it home, and it's another tribute to Porsche to run without coolant. In all seriousness, the team was great."

"It was a little crazy (during the final laps)," said Bergmeister, who moved into second place in the class drivers championship chase, just 9 points behind Flying Lizard's Wolf Henzler. "When I came back o­n, I pushed a little bit and had a hard time getting by the BMW. He made it hard o­n me. I was surprised by the BMW. I wouldn't have thought they would have been that quick here. They are really good under brakes, so it seems to even it out a little bit."

The next round of the 2006 American Le Mans Series is the Mobil 1 presents Labour Day Grand Prix of Mosport, set for 3 p.m. EDT o­n Sunday, Sept. 3. The race will be broadcast live o­n SPEED Channel. American Le Mans Radio's live play-by-play and IMSA Live Timing & Scoring will be available at americanlemans.com.

Generac 500 at Road America
Road America, Elkhart Lake, Wis.
Sunday's results

1. (2) Frank Biela, Germany; Emanuele Pirro, Italy; Audi R10 TDI Power (1, P1), 76.
2. (1) Allan McNish, Scotland; Rinaldo Capello, Italy; Audi R10 TDI Power (2, P1), 76.
3. (4) James Weaver, England; Butch Leitzinger, State College, PA; Lola B06/10 AER (3, P1), 76.
4. (6) Sascha Maassen, Germany; Timo Bernhard, Germany; Porsche RS Spyder (4, P2), 76.
5. (3) Lucas Luhr, Germany; Romain Dumas, France; Porsche RS Spyder (5, P2), 76.
6. (5) Duncan Dayton, North Salem, NY; Andy Wallace, England; Lola EX257 AER (6, P1), 76.
7. (7) Chris Dyson, Pleasant Valley, NY; Guy Smith, England; Lola B06/10 AER (7, P1), 75.
8. (8) Clint Field, Dublin, OH; Jon Field, Dublin, OH; Liz Halliday, Rancho Santa Fe, CA; Lola B05/40 AER (8, P2), 75.
9. (10) Ron Fellows, Canada; Johnny O`Connell, Flowery Branch, GA; Corvette C6.R (9, GT1), 74.
10. (12) Oliver Gavin, England; Olivier Beretta, Monaco; Corvette C6.R (10, GT1), 73.
11. (11) Darren Turner, England; Tomas Enge, Czech Republic; Aston Martin DB9 (11, GT1), 73.
12. (13) Patrick Long, Oak Park, CA; Jorg Bergmeister, Germany; Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (12, GT2), 71.
13. (18) Bill Auberlen, Hermosa Beach, CA; Joey Hand, Sacramento, CA; BMW E46 M3 (13, GT2), 71.
14. (14) Mike Rockenfeller, Germany; Marcel Tiemann, Germany; Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (14, GT2), 70.
15. (20) Toni Vilander, FInland; Marc Gene, Spain; Ferrari 430 GT Berlinetta (15, GT2), 70.
16. (9) Stephane Sarrazin, France; Pedro Lamy, Portugal; Aston Martin DB9 (16, GT1), 69.
17. (16) Wolf Henzler, Germany; Johannes vanOverbeek, San Francisco, CA; Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (17, GT2), 69.
18. (21) Justin Marks, Sacramento, CA; Bryan Sellers, Centerville, OH; BMW E46 M3 (18, GT2), 68.
19. (15) Stephane Ortelli, Monaco; Mario Dominguez, Mexico; Ferrari 430 GT Berlinetta (19, GT2), 64.
20. (23) Michael Lewis, San Diego, CA; Chris McMurry, Phoenix, AZ; Lola EX257 AER (20, P1), 62.
21. (19) David Brabham, Australia; Scott Maxwell, Canada; Panoz Esperante GTLM (21, GT2), 62.
22. (22) Tom Milner, Leesburg, VA; Gunnar Jeannette, Palm Beach Gardens, FL; Panoz Esperante GTLM (22, GT2), 62.
23. (17) Lonnie Pechnik, Pacific Grove, CA; Craig Stanton, Long Beach, CA; Seth Neiman, Burlingame, CA; Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (23, GT2), 50.