The Audi R10 twin-turbo diesel-powered endurance racing prototype is one of the world's most advanced automobiles. Known as the Super Diesel and the Whispering Revolution, the Audi R8 and now R10s have been the dominating car at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the American Le Mans Series.

At the 2007 Petit Le Mans, held at the famous Road Atlanta, Audi was struggling to maintain its superiority after a year of upsets by the Porsche RS Spyder.

Marco Werner put the #2 Audi on the pole the day after teammate Emanuele Pirro had crashed heavily the day before.

On the day of the race, Pirro was not cleared for driving due to his accident. What would Audi do? Here they set on pole for a 10-hour endurance race and half of their driving duo would not be driving!

After spending hundreds of millions of dollars developing these rolling test beds of technology, Audi found itself in a tough position at a time it needed a win and results.

The team asked Lucas Luhr and he accepted the challenge. He was at the Petit Le Mans driving a Ferrari 430 GT in the GT2 class, the 4th class down in a four class racing series. Between the morning warmup and the 11:00 race start, the team had to make adjustments so that he and Marco Werner could share driving duties in the R10 cockpit.

Fitting drivers of different heights and shapes into an endurance racer where you race for 10 hours (or 1,000 miles) is a critical step in the process of preparation. Usually, drivers and teams prepare weeks and even months for a race. Now, they were asked to make huge changes in only minutes.

Since they changed drivers, the car went from the #1 spot to the #27 spot on the starting grid. They had a choice to start on the pole with Werner driving or go to the rear of the field and let Lucas have time to get the feel of the car with less pressure.

On the grid, just minutes before the start of the race, the team was still working to fit their drivers into the car. Here, Marco Werner, gets help with adjustments. Note the long strips of black duct tape that going to be being used to hold things into place.

As one spectator remarked, "They spend 10's of millions of dollars to design and build these cars, then they use duct tape to hold them together!"

The task was made even more challenging by the difference in heights...Werner is 5'9" and Luhr 6'3". So the duct tape really had to be used to modify the cockpit quickly!

Finally, it was time for Lucas Luhr to slip into the cockpit while the countdown to the start approached.

Luhr has driven the Audi before at Le Mans and has tested in the car. He had no idea he would be doing what he is about to do...starting in the pole-sitting car and starting at the back of the field.

The big question was, "How does it feel?"

Lucas assesses the situation and immediately must go to the computer display on the steering wheel. Gauges, displays, buttons and adjustments that used to be located around past cockpits all now reside on the steering wheel of the modern racer.

So, Lucas, how do you feel about your opportunity?

Lucas seemed to settle in quickly and showed a huge amount of confidence and seemed relaxed. After all, he didn't have the months and weeks of being in the pressure of the situation he was now in. And, he couldn't quit smiling.

All alone now and with the grid cleared, it was time to start the engines and leave for the start. For a moment, there was a hesitation and it looked as if the Audi had not started or was not in gear. Then, Lucas was quickly off from the #27 starting position near the tail end of cars.

So, how did he do?

Lucas Luhr brought the #2 Audi from 27th to the first position when he turned the car over to Marco Werner. He had quickly carved his way through traffic and then on a caution brought it in with the sister car and left first.

It was a dramatic drive. Unfortunately, the race lasts 10 hours and/or 1,000 miles and this stint was only the first of many. Here, Werner while in 2nd position flies around the course.

These cars really are quiet as they come flying by. Being race cars and particularly diesels, you expect them to be loud, but they are not. Some race fans have even complained that they are not loud enough! But, they are incredible pieces of technology as they come whispering by.

After trading the lead back and forth between the Audi and Penske Porsche RS Spyders, the #1 Audi of Dindo Capello and Allan Macnish won the 2007 Petit Le Mans.

Lucas Luhr and Marco Werner finished in 17th spot after an incident where Werner went off course and damaged the suspension and other items that caused lengthy pit stops.

For Lucas Luhr, I imagine it is one ride he will always remember!

Cyber Motorsports at the Petit Le Mans 2007

Petit Le Mans 2007

Tuesday Paddock Walk

©2007 Cyber Motorsports