Audi has secured another win in the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta after Allan McNish, Dindo Capello and Emanuele Pirro secured victory in the 2008 event – despite starting the race two laps down.
McNish had suffered a spin on a reconnaissance lap little more than an hour before the scheduled start, which left the Audi team with work to do to get the R10 TDi ready to race. Unfortunately, the field had already started when the Audi was ready to hit the track, although the loss of time was minimised to two laps when an early caution flew after the Lola of Ryan Lewis ground to a halt on track.
The Scot took the Audi onto the lead lap during his first stint of the race and after solid stints from both Capello and Pirro, it was McNish who was back onboard for the run to the flag – taking the lead from Christian Klien in the Peugeot with 40 minutes left to run and taking the flag by less than five seconds to maintain Audi's unbeaten Petit Le Mans record.
"This race belongs to the team," McNish said. "To get 16-17 people from both crews on that and get it repaired when I thought we were out, they did something I didn't think was possible. No one in our team does the work to finish second. There's no question in my mind that when we got in the position at the end that I was going to do everything I could do to win this race. If it took us to the top step, then it was just desserts for the team.
"I got a run on Christian out of turn five and he got caught up in traffic. You get one opportunity to overtake and you have to take it. I was able to dive in at seven and he couldn't get a clean line to pass me on the straight."
McNish and Capello became the first drivers to win at Petit Le Mans for three consecutive years. Audi's Marco Werner and Lucas Luhr, newly crowned LMP1 champions, finished third.
Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe won in LMP2 for Penske Motorsports in their Porsche RS Spyder, with Castroneves becoming the first driver to win both Petit Le Mans and the Indianapolis 500. He finished 21 seconds ahead of Penske team-mates Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas, who won their second straight drivers championship.
"I have to thank Roger and Tim for letting me be in the car," said Castroneves, who won in his second series start. "These guys did an incredible job. Timo and Romain did a great job, and Ryan was awesome. This is a very challenging track and very difficult. It turned out to be a great race for all three cars."
Penske swept the Petit P2 podium with Sascha Maassen, Patrick Long and Emmanuel Collard finishing third. The victory also gave Penske its third straight team championship in class.