Adelaide, December 31st, 2000
The “race of a thousand years” really deserves its name: Spectacular
action on the difficult street circuit in Adelaide and ultimately a dominant
victory for the Audi R8 sporting a crocodile design turned the final of the
American Le Mans Series (ALMS) in front of about 150.000 spectators into
a real highlight of the season. After a turbulent 5:45 hours, Rinaldo Capello
and Allan McNish won with a margin of 21 laps. The “sister” Audi R8 of
Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro achieved sixth place in the prototype
category after a crash and the following recovery.
The path to the sixth win of the season for the Scottish-Italian duo was
harder than ever before and started off with the first moment of panic on
Friday afternoon. Right after the first practice, Allan McNish suffering from
back-ache, had to undergo medical treatment and had to take a rest on
Saturday. As the Scotsman’s race participation was uncertain, Audi Sport
North America nominated Australian Brad Jones as an additional driver and
support for the no. 77 Audi R8.
The next incident, a crash during the last lap of the warm-up on Sunday
morning even endangered the start of the “crocodile”. But the Team Audi
Sport North America repaired the badly damaged car in record time making
it possible to get on the grid just in time.
Furthermore Allan McNish surprised the fans with a great comeback in the
afternoon. The Scotsman gritted his teeth, started the race, drove the
fastest lap time and after 77 laps handed the Audi R8 over to team mate
Rinaldo Capello with a comfortable lead. Together Capello and McNish
extended the lead and crowned their successful season with another
victory. At the same time Allan McNish secured the drivers championship
in the American Le Mans Series. After Allan McNish recovered Brad Jones
only absolved one free practice in the best sportscar this year.
The drivers of the “sister” Audi R8 will never forget this race “Down Under”
which finished only two hours before New Year’s Eve. After Emanuele Pirro
touched a wall after three hours when lapping slower cars the race seemed
to be over for Le Mans winners Biela and Pirro. But the crew of Team
Reinhold Joest didn’t give up again: Pirro drove the damaged car back to
the pits where the team changed rear end, front diffusor, and front
suspension of the 610 bhp sportscar. Accompanied by cheers from the
crowd Frank Biela went back on the track and with sixth position in the
prototype category secured further championship points.