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Portland, August 5, 2001

The race in Portland goes into history as the most exciting event of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS): During the entire race of 2:45 hours, the leaders showed a thrilling exchange of blows with the lead changing almost every lap. At the end Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro had to leave victory to the fastest Panoz by only a good three tenths of a second. Johnny Herbert and Andy Wallace in the 2000-spec Audi R8 of the Champion team completed the success of Audi with third place while Rinaldo Capello and Tom Kristensen gained fifth position after shifting problems.

Already the start in the US state of Oregon was exciting. Spectators along the track watched with bated breath as Tom Kristensen in his Infineon Audi R8 moved past David Brabham and so conquered the lead in the first corner. But Panoz fought back and even 1.5 hours later there was only a margin of less than two seconds between the two drivers.

The preliminary decision was made when Kristensen’s partner Rinaldo Capello experienced shifting problems on his car and had to make an unscheduled pit stop. The Audi Sport North America team changed a switchbox in record time, but the lost laps could not be made up again.

At the same time, Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro showed a great comeback. The Infineon Audi R8 of the German/Italian duo suffered from oversteer and fell back to fifth position. But a great amount of fighting spirit and a full course yellow brought the number 2 car back to the front. At the end, even a surprising victory was possible.

With second place in Portland, a unique series of victories finds its end: Audi won 14 races in a row. After this first impression of how tough the rest of the season will be, the Audi Sport North America team travels to the next challenge: The upcoming ALMS events start on 19 August (Mosport) and only one week later at Mid-Ohio.

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Rinaldo Capello (#1)
“Tom told me about the shifting problems when I took over the car. It got even worse after a while, so we had to pit again and work on the car. Often our team makes miracles come true but this time they had no chance because we lost too much time. But we will come back.”

Tom Kristensen (#1)
“The start was great. Good effort by David, who left me some space. It was very close, but fair. From then on he took every chance to attack me and could pass me. Nevertheless we had very good chances to win after I got back into the lead after my pit stop. Then I struggled with sticking gears, especially third and fourth, which cost us a lot of time.”

Frank Biela (#2)
“At the start I had to fight against Johnny Herbert, but I managed to secure third position. At the beginning everything worked out fine but after the first safety car period nothing was working anymore: I had heavy oversteer and collected a lot of rubber from the track. I already thought, the race was over for us, so I’m even more happy about our comeback and the second place.”

Emanuele Pirro (#2)
“Today I’m very happy with second place. We struggled with oversteer from the very first lap, but we kept on fighting during the entire race. I would have done nearly everything to get into the lead at the end but there was nothing I could do.”

Johnny Herbert (#38)
“It was nice to make a competitive pass on the number two car. We are getting to know each other and the car. Every time we make a suggestion the team responds and the car responds to the change. We were able to keep pace with the front of the pack and take advantage of their mistakes, while we didn’t make any.”

Andy Wallace (#38)
“The end of the race was exciting. On the restart we went inside and everyone was banging into each other, the Panoz just went in too far and spun. We had a good battle going up until that point. I am happy with the progress of the team, we need some more miles in the car to really get it handling and take the next step.”

Dr Wolfgang Ullrich, Head of Audi Sport
“Together with last year’s Mosport event, this was the most exciting race of the ALMS. Until the very last lap everything was possible, but taken all in all Panoz was simply a little bit better today. After such a long time the team deserved this victory. Now we know how tough the rest of the season will be, but that only gives us more motivation.”

Reinhold Joest, Team Director Audi Sport North America
“A few days ago I read that Portland is supposed to have its own rules: Never before has a series leader won this race. I guess today we fell victim to this rule. But nevertheless this was a great weekend: The spectators saw a nice show, Panoz gained some motivation - and we at Audi can also celebrate a second and fifth place.”

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1. Magnussen, Brabham

Panoz 131 laps

2. Biela, Pirro

Audi R8 + 0.374s

3. Herbet, Wallace

Audi R8 + 15.589s

4. Graf, Lagorce

Panoz + 21.758s

5. Capello, Kristensen

Audi R8 - 4 laps

6. Duno, Graham, de Radigues

Reynard - 8 laps

7. Fellows, O’Connell

Chevrolet - 9 laps

8. Pilgrim, Collins

Chevrolet - 9 laps

9. Said, Stuck

BMW - 10 laps

10. Luhr, Maassen

Porsche - 11 laps
Tom Kristensen in the #1 Infineon Audi R8
The #1 Infineon Audi R8 during a pitstop
Rinaldo Capello in the #1 Infineon Audi R8
Pitstop of Emanuele Pirro
Johnny Herbert in the #38 Champion Audi R8
Frank Biela in the #2 Infineon Audi R8 battleing with the #51 Graf & Lagorce Panoz
Emanuele Pirro in the #2 Infineon Audi R8
Andy Wallace in the #38 Champion Audi R8
Frank Biela in the #2 Infineon Audi R8