Crash-fest at Las Vegas

Audi duo Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro dodged a dramatic crash to take victory in round 11 of the Le Mans Series Championship at Las Vegas today. For the second race in a row, Australia's David Brabham had his chances of victory stolen with...

Audi duo Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro dodged a dramatic crash to take victory in round 11 of the Le Mans Series Championship at Las Vegas today.

For the second race in a row, Australia's David Brabham had his chances of victory stolen with less than an hour remaining.

Team-mate Jan Magnussen made a storming start to grab the lead from the two front-row Audis at the green flag.

Despite a stop-go penalty for tangling with Audi's Allan McNish, Magnussen and Panoz regularly ran to the front of the pack until disaster struck after two hours at a restart from a safety car period.

The BMW of Jorg Muller made contact with the #2 Panoz of Johnny O'Connell. Muller was then struck by one of the Audis who was then struck by Brabham.

Former Grand Prix star Stefan Johansson then hit Brabham, tearing the rear wing off the Panoz machine.

O'Connell's car was eliminated by the crash while Muller and Brabham fell out of contention after lengthy pit-stops to repair the damage.

"Everything was happening in front of me then Biela stopped in front of me," Brabham said.

"I hit him, went back on the throttle but couldn't find a gear although my dash display was telling me I had one. I think when I hit the Audi it must have knocked my car into neutral.

"While I was trying to find a gear I got hit up the rear by Johansson who had no where else to go. I'm bitterly disappointed as the car felt really good and we had a chance of winning this race."

Second place for the battered Audi of Allan McNish and Dindo Capello has virtually sealed the driver's championship for McNish, but Pirro was delighted to grab his third victory of the year with Biela.

"Obviously I am in seventh heaven," Pirro said.

"A win is very welcome even at this late stage of the season. We have been very good through the whole weekend.

"When I got the car with fresh tyres, I felt very confident that I could make it. Obviously the accident helped me a lot, but even without that I was very hopeful."

Olivier Beretta moved a step closer to the GTS division championship after taking victory with Karl Wendlinger in their Dodge Viper. The win was the second in succession for the duo who have been battling hard with the Corvette squad.

Saascha Massen and veteran Bob Wollek took the GT victory. The Le Mans Series teams will now converge on Adelaide for the final round of the championship from December 29-31.

<pre> QUALIFYING - PROTOTYPE DIVISION 1. - Frank Biela/Emanuele Pirro - Audi - 129 laps 2. - Allan McNish/Rinaldo Capello - Audi - 129 laps 3. - Bill Auberlen/Jean-Marc Gounon - BMW - 128 laps 4. - Mimmo Schiattarella/Didier de Radigues - Lola - 125 laps 5. - Stefan Johansson/Guy Smith - Reynard - 125 laps GTS DIVISION 1. - Olivier Beretta/Karl Wendlinger - Dodge Viper - 120 laps GT DIVISION 1. - Saasha Massen/Bob Wollek - Porsche GT3-R - 118 laps

Paul Ryan: ryan@panoz.com.au

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Series ALMS
Drivers David Brabham , Stefan Johansson , Rinaldo Capello , Didier de Radigues , Jan Magnussen , Allan McNish , Guy Smith , Frank Biela , Karl Wendlinger , Johnny O'Connell , Jorg Muller , Bill Auberlen , Ryan Paul , Mimmo Schiattarella , Jean-Marc Gounon , Olivier Beretta , Bob Wollek , Dindo Capello , Emanuele Pirro