Audi's Lucas Luhr passed Romain Dumas on a restart with three minutes left Saturday to give Audi a victory in the Acura Sports Car Challenge of St. Petersburg presented by XM Satellite Radio, the German manufacturer's first overall victory of 2008.
Luhr teamed with Marco Werner in Audi Sport North America's #2 Audi R10 TDI as a diesel-powered prototype won on the streets of St. Petersburg for the second straight season.
The 0.818-second victory was Luhr's first overall in the American Le Mans Series and his seventh victory on a street circuit. Werner won overall for the first time since the 2007 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. The car made just one pit stop in the race.
"We were not expecting the car to be this good so it was great to go out and win a race for Audi," Werner said. "It was for sure very exciting. I think it was very stressful for me in the pits. I could watch it on TV and was very nervous, especially with all the safety cars."
The last one preceded Luhr's winning move. Dyson Racing's Butch Leitzinger spun at Turn 2 after contact with Penske Racing's Patrick Long with 15 minutes left, a crash that also damaged Jörg Bergmeister's Flying Lizard GT2 Porsche. Dumas had taken the lead under green with 19 minutes to go but the torque of the Audi proved to be the difference. When the green flew, Luhr got on the diesel and beat Dumas to Turn 1 for a clean pass at the end of the long frontstretch.
"I was upset because I knew the safety car periods take a while so I didn't know if we had a chance to go for it again," Luhr said. "When I hit the throttle on the restart I knew I could get him, before we were dancing with the inside or the outside and during the race I had been picking my spots to pass so I was able to get around."
Dumas and Bernhard did salvage their weekend with their eighth straight LMP2 victory dating back to Mid-Ohio in July of last year. The duo was five seconds clear of David Brabham and Scott Sharp in the Patrón Highcroft Racing entry, the highest finisher among the three Acura ARX-01b cars.
The pairing controlled the P2 contest from the beginning with Bernhard starting first in class and second overall after Dumas' qualifying run. The German pitted just once as well, handing off to Dumas at the 44-minute mark. He led 35 of the final 43 laps.
"To race only two laps at the end, we had no chance," Dumas said. "We lost the victory overall but we won in class so it was a good weekend for everybody. I can tell you in the last hour, I was taking a lot of risks trying to keep up but that is street racing and how it goes. The tyres did a great job holding up. The new compound is very great. Michelin did a great job providing a great new tyre."