Herbert/Lehto win for Audi at Road America.
Johnny Herbert and JJ Lehto gave Audi another victory in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS). Driving Team ADT Champion Racing's Audi R8, the two former Formula One drivers earned a clear victory at Road America (US state of Wisconsin), winning ahead of the MG Lola of Andy Wallace/Chris Dyson. Frank Biela and Marco Werner finished third in the LMP900 class after the starter motor of their Infineon Team Joest Audi R8 had to be changed, defending their ALMS championship lead.
In the opening stages of the 2:45-hour race, Audi's two customer teams Joest and Champion battled fiercly with the fastest MG Lola and the best Panoz. Butch Leitzinger initially took the lead, taking advantage from the lighter weight of his LMP675 sports car at the start. However, as soon as on lap seven, he was passed by pole sitter Marco Werner in Team Joest's Audi R8, and shortly later also by Johnny Herbert's Champion Audi.
Until his first pit-stop, Marco Werner defended the lead in front of Johnny Herbert. After refuelling, however, the engine of the Joest R8 did not restart. Changing the overheated starter motor cost Biela/Werner seven laps and dropped them to 30th overall, sixth in the LMP900 class. Recordning consistently quick lap times and a fast final pit-stop allowed Biela to move back to seventh overall and third in the LMP900 class. "In the end we reduced the damage and can be happy with third place in class," said Marco Werner. "Our car had the potential to win the race," explained Frank Biela. "Unfortunately we had some bad luck today."
Johnny Herbert and JJ Lehto reduced their gap in the ALMS championship by taking their second victory of the season. Herbert remained close to Marco Werner during his opening stint and took the lead when the starter motor was changed on the Joest R8. Herbert handed the Champion Audi over to JJ Lehto with a one-lap lead. "I did not have to push very hard anymore and was able to drive very relaxed," said JJ Lehto. "Of course, the problems for Joest made life easier for us," added Johnny Herbert. "But our car was very good. We made some good changes since Mosport. Today everything went perfectly. It was important to us to win here, and thank God we have."
Coming up this week
Seiji Ara and Tom Kristensen contest the Spa 1000 km race with Team Goh's Audi R8 (Sunday) ... Rounds 13 and 14 of the Swedish Touring Car Championship (STCC) at Knutstorp (Sunday) ...