Drivers battle San Jose soccer team

ALMS drivers take on members of WUSA's San Jose CyberRays on soccer field SARATOGA, Calif. -- Motor racing took a backseat to soccer on Monday for American Le Mans Series drivers Johnny Herbert and Eliseo Salazar. The two drivers took...

ALMS drivers take on members of WUSA's San Jose CyberRays on soccer field

SARATOGA, Calif. -- Motor racing took a backseat to soccer on Monday for American Le Mans Series drivers Johnny Herbert and Eliseo Salazar.

The two drivers took part in a soccer skills competition against members of the WUSA's San Jose CyberRays at West Valley Junior College in Saratoga. Herbert and Salazar are in the Bay Area this week for the Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway, July 25-27. The event is presented by the Napa Valley Marriott Hotel & Spa and Foster's Lager.

But instead of racing around the tight corners of the 12-turn, 2.52-mile road course nestled in the Sonoma Valley, both Herbert and Salazar took turns Monday taking penalty kicks against CyberRays starting keeper LaKeysia Beene, as well as manning the goal themselves.

Beene was joined by teammates Katia, Betsy Barr and Michelle French in the friendly drills competition. All were surprised by the agility in goal by Herbert, who will compete this weekend for the Team ADT Champion Racing Audi R8 with teammate JJ Lehto in the premier LMP 900 class.

"He showed a lot of skill," Beene said of Herbert. "We didn't know what to expect coming in but I was pretty impressed. It was a lot of fun to play with these guys. They were pretty good out there, especially Eliseo."

Herbert, a former Formula One driver, did allow his share of goals while minding the net, but he also punched away several shots. At one time, he extended his entire body, diving through the air to block one line drive. He played soccer in Great Britain in both grade school and high school, but his position was fullback.

"The last time I was in goal was at a charity event at the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix in 1999," Herbert said. "I did a little better today. I actually even surprised myself with some of my moves."

Salazar grew up playing soccer in Chile and was quite skilled, displaying nifty dribbling ability, as well as firing a few shots past Beene.

"I come from Chile and we all play soccer down there," said Salazar, who will pilot the JMB Racing USA Team Ferrari this weekend in the GT class. "This is by far the No. 1 sport in my country, as well as all of South America, but it was good to play with some real professionals today. These ladies can really play well."

The ALMS will run test sessions on Friday to kick-off the weekend, with qualifying set for Saturday at Infineon Raceway. The green flag will drop for the 2-hour, 45-minute feature race on Sunday at noon.

WHAT: Big O Tires Racing Season Presents: Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma, presented by Napa Valley Marriott Hotel & Spa and Foster's Lager.

WHEN: July 25-27

WHERE: Infineon Raceway

COST: Advance - $10 Friday, $20 Saturday, $35 Sunday, $55 weekend pass. Children 12 and under are free. Parking is free.

TICKETS: 800-870-RACE, www.infineonraceway.com, www.ticketmaster.com.

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Johnny Herbert , Eliseo Salazar , JJ Lehto