While victory on the streets of St Petersburg was accepted, Long Beach should have been a different matter when it came to Audi taking on - and beating - the massed ranks of LMP2 rivals in the American Le Mans Series.

While it is hard to remember a time when an Audi victory in the ALMS was considered a surprise, that's just what happened on Saturday as Marco Werner and Lucas Luhr scored an unlikely win in the Tequila Patr?n event in Long Beach. To make matters 'worse, both R10 TDIs finished ahead of the LMP2 cars to claim an unexpected 1-2. Werner crossed the finish line 1.964secs ahead of Emanuele Pirro in the sister Audi as the German manufacturer claimed its first podium sweep since St Petersburg last season.

"From the beginning, the car was good so we didn't make many changes," Werner said, "I was never fastest, and free practice and qualifying are never the same thing, so you can guess we are quite happy with Michelin at the moment. The car set-up is really helping us a lot this year, especially in the street circuits. We are in max lock trying to make the turns, especially in the hairpins. But the Michelins are keeping the car where it should be and helping us deal with all the corners."

Werner got around Penske Racing's Romain Dumas with eleven minutes remaining, taking the overall lead from the best of the Porsche RS Spyders and using the torque and power of the R10 TDI to pull away after a late caution period. Pirro did the same to claim runners-up honours with fellow veteran Frank Biela, as Audi added to its win last time out in Florida. On that occasion, it was Luhr who drove the closing stint and passed Dumas with three minutes remaining.

"Marco got to do the same thing I did last race at St Pete," Luhr said, "Now I know how it feels. I couldn't watch it. The team said it would be okay, but I said 'I'm too old, I can't watch'."

Luhr started sixth on the grid but moved up to second overall before pitting near the 40-minute mark. He was held up in pit-lane by Jon Field's Intersport Lola and lost several seconds before Werner rejoined in ninth place. Werner then worked his way back through the field using the power of the R10 TDI and timely yellow flags to get within range of Dumas, before ultimately taking the lead.

The deciding yellow flag came at the one-hour mark of the shorter-than-usual event, with debris reported at turn eleven. It only took a couple of laps after the restart for Werner to thunder by Dumas at the end of the frontstretch.

"I think I was quite okay in traffic today," the German said, "It was the key for the victory, especially before the yellow came out. I think Romain expected me not to make the pass with the GT car ahead. But I tried - it wasn't too much risk, but you have to try. We knew he'd be better on braking, but I closed the door and had a good first corner but better second - then the torque took over, so I could pull away."

In LMP2, David Brabham and Scott Sharp scored the first victory for Patr?n Highcroft Racing as Brabham made a diving pass on Dumas on the penultimate lap to score the first win for the new Acura ARX-01b. Brabham crossed the finish line 1.036secs ahead of the Porsche as Acura won for the first time since its series debut last year at Sebring. Brabham and Sharp also finished third overall for the second consecutive race, as the Australian became the first driver in series history to score victories in all four classes.

"To win this race like we did is something special," Brabham admitted, "The first three or four laps the car was sliding around. Once the tyres came in, I found the car was really hooked up in the turns. The inside move on Dumas felt really sweet. The team was on the radio telling me how much time and how many laps they thought was left. I knew I didn't have long and, if I had a chance, I needed to go for it."

The two cars were in close contact throughout the penultimate lap, but the Patr?n Highcroft pit erupted when Brabham cleared the Porsche.

"This feels incredible," said Sharp, who scored his first series victory after driving the opening stint, "These are the types of accomplishments the team is looking for this year. Anytime you can get one-up on Roger Penske's team, you've done something. We were well back Thursday and I can't say enough about the job the team did to get the car back."

As a result of the Highcroft success, Dumas and Timo Bernhard saw their eight-race class win streak end with their second-place finish. They finished ahead of Penske team-mates Patrick Long and Sascha Maassen.

Corvette Racing's Johnny O'Connell and Jan Magnussen scored their second GT1 victory of the season with a 1.374secs victory over the sister car of Olivier Beretta and Oliver Gavin. Magnussen began on the class pole position, and he and O'Connell never lost the advantage.

"The start was interesting, as it was a lot cooler than qualifying," said Magnussen, "The set-up was working perfectly - there were a few moments I got close to the wall, but I got some moments with Oliver where I could attack."

The duo also assumed the lead in the class championship, breaking a tie with their team-mates. Gavin and Beretta won nine times in class last year and have won the last three GT1 championships but, at least for the first three events, the playing field between the two Corvettes seem to have levelled.

"Things are really gelling well with Jan and myself," said O'Connell, "We weren't dominated last year, they were always close wins and we were always right there and just caught some bad luck. It was just the way racing goes, sometimes you have up years and sometimes they are down. Racing is a team sport, but any time we can beat the #4, it is a great thing."

Dirk Muller had to do a little extra work to score Tafel Racing's Ferrari a second straight GT2 victory with Dominik Farnbacher, holding off Flying Lizard Motorsports' Wolf Henzler and his Porsche 911 GT3 RSR by 0.102secs. The result wasn't decided until the final corner as the two cars started on their final lap just before Werner took the chequered flag.

The two cars were nose-to-tail for the entire final lap and were joined by the #46 Flying Lizard Porsche of polewinner Patrick Pilet, who finished third in class with Johannes van Overbeek. The finish was the second-closest finish in the history of the American Le Mans Series and the tightest in GT2.

"The car was fantastic," Muller said, "It was a gamble not taking tyres, and the safety car helped make it a close end. The five years of really hard driving in touring car racing really helped me. The racing line was quite wide. It was possible to do off line racing and give room for overtaking."

The difference was pit strategy. Both the Lizard cars took tyres during their lone pit-stop while the Tafel car elected to run the full race on one set of Michelins. Tafel saved 7.362secs on the pit-stop and it proved crucial.

"I drove easy to try and save the tyres for Dirk," Farnbacher said, "I tried to simply stay with the pack until my drive was over."



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