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New Audi, Same Story at Sebring

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, March 22 2009

almsThe 2009 Audi looked different from the 2008 edition, but it didn’t perform any differently. It wound up in victory lane on race day.

Audi, the dominant car in the American Le Mans Series the last several seasons, started off the season by winning the 12-hour race at Sebring last Saturday.

This year’s Audi prototype, the R15 TDI, with Allan McNish, Dindo Capello and Tom Kristensen sharing driving duties, crossed the finish line 22.27 seconds ahead of the second place car.

NcNish was at the wheel of the Audi on the final stint. Finishing second was the Peugeot driven by Franck Montagny.

Both cars were powered by diesel engines.

The two prototypes stayed on the same lap throughout the 12 hours in a carry-over from last year’s clashes at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Petit Le Mans, also razor-thin Audi victories.

The winning trio made the R15 TDI Audi’s third prototype to win in its race debut joining the R8 in 2000 and R10 TDI in 2006.

The two Audis and two Peugeot 908 HDis swapped the lead 23 times. The race also set records for fastest average speed (117.986 mph), distance covered (1,417 miles) and laps completed under the current 3.7-mile, 17-turn configuration (383).

Montagny drove with fellow Frenchmen Sebastien Bourdais and Stephane Sarrazin. They combined to lead eight times and suffered a late setback when they pitted near the nine-hour mark with what the team feared was a punctured rear tire. The car replaced its rear tires on the emergency stop, which altered the strategy for the rest of the race.

The second Audi of Lucas Luhr, Mike Rockenfeller and Marco Werner finished third. It led four times in the race.

Lowe’s Fernandez Racing captured its long-awaited first LMP2 victory for Adrian Fernandez and Luis Diaz. The pairing’s Acura ARX-01b ran a strong and consistent race while Dyson Racing’s two Mazda-powered Lola B09/86 coupes struggled with mechanical issues.

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, March 22 2009
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  • Mark says:

    On a scale from 1 to 10 (10 being great) Sebring-2009 was not a 10. Although the Peugeot/Audi race in P1 was entertaining, it could have been better if there were an additional 20 or more cars to contend with at the end, instead of the 12 cars that were running at the 10-hour mark. (16 were running if you include the 2 Peugeots and 2 Audis.)

    In P2 there wasn’t much competition, none at the end. And GT1 had no competition from the git-go. GT2 had initial promise but it faded as you realized how many cars were not competitive. And the BMW effort left much to be desired.

    As entrants continue to decline (see below), the 12-Hours is losing its luster. I give this year’s race a 6, thanks to Audi-Peugeot.

    If this trend continues, next year could be my last.

    P1 P2 GT1 GT2 Total
    02 18 11 12 20 61
    03 15 7 10 29 61
    04 12 7 6 21 46
    05 6 5 10 18 39
    06 7 7 6 16 36
    07 4 9 3 18 34
    08 6 10 3 16 35
    09 8 3 2 15 28