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Laguna Seca, 17th October 2008

Emanuele Pirro has captured the LM P1 pole position at Laguna Seca (U.S. state of California) in his last race with the Audi R10 TDI. On Friday, the Italian won the qualifying battle against his team-mate Lucas Luhr.

Team Audi Sport North America’s two Audi R10 TDI prototypes will line-up on the fifth row of the starting grid for the finale of the American Le Mans Series. In unexpected hot conditions, the LM P1 cars had no chance to match the qualifying pace of the lighter LM P2 prototypes. With gaps of 1.1 and 1.7 seconds respectively, Pirro and Luhr qualified ninth and tenth.

Pirro was on a quicker lap when the qualifying session had to be stopped because of a car stuck in the gravel. Luhr was complaining about an understeering car on the slippery track and did not find a clear lap.

Audi had captured the titles in the LM P1 class of the American Le Mans Series already prior the finale. The Audi R10 TDI is undefeated at Laguna Seca so far.

The race starts on Saturday at 2:45 p.m. local time (11:45 p.m. in Germany) and runs over a distance of four hours into the darkness.

Starting driver in the number 1 Audi R10 TDI will be Christijan Albers from the Netherlands who will be competing in his first ever sportscar race at Laguna Seca. Lucas Luhr will be the start driver in the sister car.

Quotes after qualifying at Laguna Seca

Christijan Albers (Audi R10 TDI #1)
"The car is not easy to drive, especially on a new track. I have to get used to everything. But there is a good atmosphere in the team and we work together well. I’m going quicker every lap. So I’m quite happy. ‘EP’ did a very good qualifying. I’m excited about tomorrow because this will be my first sports car race in my career and my first rolling start. I’m looking forward to it.”

Emanuele Pirro (Audi R10 TDI #1)
"It’s been an exciting qualifying which I enjoyed very much. If you need to build a track tailor made for the lighter LM P2 cars you would build a replica of Laguna Seca. We have to do what we can. Our car is well balanced. We know that the R10 TDI will perform a lot better versus the light cars in the race. And the race is long.”

Lucas Luhr (Audi R10 TDI #2)
"We waited a little bit at the beginning to find a gap. Unfortunately I came out just in traffic which was not good. On top of that I hate understeer – if 100 is bad I had 250. We have to try to improve the car for the race. This will be quite some work.”

Marco Werner (Audi R10 TDI #2)
"Of course we are not content. Because of the sand the track conditions keep changing from lap to lap. If somebody is running over the kerbs the conditions are getting even worse. Right now, however, we are not happy with the car. We hope it will be cooler tomorrow. This should help us."

Dave Maraj (Team Director Audi Sport North America)
"The lap times are close to last year except for the pole setter. It seems that the track was a little bit slower today due to the hot weather.”

The starting grid at Laguna Seca

1 Brabham/Sharp (Acura/Honda) 1m 10.103s
2 Fernandez/Diaz (Acura/Honda) 1m 10.202s
3 Dumas/Bernhard (Porsche) 1m 10.351s
4 de Ferran/Pagenaud (Acura/Honda) 1m 30.451s
5 Montagny/Kanaan (Acura/Honda) 1m 10.567s
6 Maassen/Long (Porsche) 1m 10.586s
7 Castroneves/Briscoe (Porsche) 1m 10.606s
8 Smith/Dyson (Porsche) 1m 11.010s
9 Albers/Pirro (Audi R10 TDI) 1m 11.264s (1st in LM P1)
10 Luhr/Werner (Audi R10 TDI) 1m 11.825s (2nd in LM P1)

The race in Long Beach starts on Saturday at 14.45 hours local time (23.45 CEST) and runs over four hours.

Additional Note and comment from the Editor .... looks like there is to much speed left to retire after leaving the rejuvenated teamby 6 thenth behind ... expierence comes only with age ... something Peugeot could benefit from or Honda/Acura best sample David Brabham

Emanuele Pirro will race an Audi sports prototype for the last time in his career at the American Le Mans Series finale on 18 October at Laguna Seca. The Italian has served the brand since 1994 and is one of the most successful Audi factory drivers ever with three touring car titles, two sportscar championship victories in the American Le Mans Series and five wins in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Head of Audi Motorsport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich and the 46-year old Audi factory driver Emanuele Pirro had already reached an agreement some time ago about the end of the Italian’s active career for Audi at the 2008 American Le Mans Series season finale. Included among Pirro’s outstanding victories under the banner of the four rings are the Italian Touring Car Championship (1994 and 1995), the German Touring Car Championship (1996), the 24 Hours of Le Mans (2000, 2001, 2002, 2006 and 2007) and the American Le Mans Series (2001, 2005).

"On behalf of the Audi motorsport squad and the entire AUDI AG I would like to extend our thanks to Emanuele Pirro for the excellent and extremely successful cooperation over the last 15 years,” explains Dr Wolfgang Ullrich of Pirro who became the first driver to be signed during his time as Head of Audi Motorsport since 1993. "Throughout this extraordinarily long relationship many personal experiences and great memories of fantastic individual race wins and championship victories with Audi touring and sportscar unite us still today.”

"A wonderful chapter of my life and career comes to a close,” explains Emanuele Pirro. "Even as hopeless optimist, at the very beginning I would never have dreamt of spending 15 such fantastic and wonderfully successful years with Audi on both a personal and professional level. I want to pass on my sincerest gratitude to Audi Sport and all the teams for who I have driven – ROC Competition, Audi Sport Italia, Team Joest and Champion Racing and also all my team mates during this time.”

In order to nurture this prosperous and successful cooperation Audi has opened the possibility for Emanuele Pirro to act as brand ambassador in the future. Audi successfully implemented the rejuvenation of the sportscar programme driver squad in 2006 with the signing of Lucas Luhr (winner of the LM P1 class in the 2008 American Le Mans Series together with Marco Werner), Alexandre Prémat and Mike Rockenfeller (joint winners of the Le Mans Series 2008) and continued it this year with races for Marcel Fässler and Christijan Albers.

24.09.2012, 07:51:35 cet
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