Biela and Pirro take radio-controlled Texas win

A faulty pits-to-car radio cost Allan McNish and Dindo Capello certain victory in Saturday evening's seventh round of the American Le Mans Series. The Anglo-Italian pairing dominated the race at the Texas Motor Speedway, but their last-minute splash-and-dash fuel stop resulted in victory for Audi team mates Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro in searing 40-degree heat

Biela and Pirro take radio-controlled Texas win

Biela had made his final fuel stop during a safety-car period with 40 minutes of the race to go, but the Joest-run team was unable to summon the race leader into the pits because radio communications were down and he continued for as long as he could.

Capello was devastated by their poor fortune. "I'm upset because I thought our run of bad luck this year was over," said the Italian. "The lap times speak for themselves. We were the faster car today."

Pirro acknowledged that it was a lucky victory, but pointed out that in the Mosport ALMS round four weeks ago, it was he who had lost near-certain victory in the closing stages. "To be honest, I'd prefer not to win a race in this way, but it's still a victory."

The Panoz Roadster of Jan Magnussen and David Brabham finished a distant third in the race lasting two hours and 45 minutes, one lap down on the two Audi R8s. This pairing easily had the legs of the rest of the field, but couldn't quite match the German cars. "We couldn't really compete today," he said. "It was a bit boring, actually."

The best of the BMW V12 LMRs, driven by JJ Lehto and Jorg Muller, could only finish fourth, the first time the 1999 Le Mans-winning design has failed to get onto the podium in its two-year career. Muller lost time with an unscheduled stop near the end after being punted up the rear by a slower car. The second BMW of Jean-Marc Gounon and Bill Auberlen would have been fourth had not the factory Schnitzer team not instituted team orders to give its two championship challengers a couple of extra points.

Another run came to an end in the heat of the Texas night. One of the ORECA team's Dodge Viper GTS-Rs failed to win the GTS class for the first time since the team joined the series over one year ago. Factory Chevrolet driver Ron Fellows and Andy Pilgrim led every lap on the way to a first victory for the Corvette C5-R.

Problems for the two Vipers meant that the final margin of victory was three laps, but ex-pat Englishman Pilgrim was confident that they would have won come what may. "It would have been close, but we were holding them. We had plenty in hand if they had come at us."

The Dick Barbour Porsche of Dirk Muller and Lucas Luhr dominated the GT class only for the latter to be punted out of the lead with less than half an hour to go. A pitstop for a front tyre dropped the car to third behind the similar Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3-R driven by Randy Pobst and Bruno Lambert and the second Barbour car.

The ALMS resumes at Portland, Oregan, next weekend.


1 Emanuele Pirro/Frank Biela (Audi R8) 127 laps, 2hr45m46.367s
2 Allan McNish/Rinaldo Capello (Audi R8) 127 laps, 2hr45m59.940s
3 Jan Magnussen/David Brabham (Panoz LMP Roadster) 126 laps
4 JJ Lehto/Jorg Muller (BMW V12 LMR) 124 laps
5 Bill Auberlen/Jean-Marc Gounon (BMW V12 LMR) 124 laps
6 Johnny O'Connell/Hiroki Katoh (Panoz LMP Roadster S) 123 laps
GTS Ron Fellows/Andy Pilgrim (Chevrolet Corvette C5-R) 116 laps
GT Randy Pobst/Bruno Lambert (Porsche 911 GT3-R) 112 laps

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