Johansson Motorsports Road Atlanta preview

The British-based Johansson Motorsports team head for Atlanta and the final round of the American Le Mans Series on Saturday (6 Oct) aiming to bring the curtain down in style on an already successful season. Having claimed the inaugural European...

The British-based Johansson Motorsports team head for Atlanta and the final round of the American Le Mans Series on Saturday (6 Oct) aiming to bring the curtain down in style on an already successful season.

Having claimed the inaugural European Le Mans Series title Arena, former Ferrari Formula One star Stefan Johansson, of Sweden, will be looking for another top result.

Johansson and Frenchman Patrick Lemarié drive their Gulf Oils/Brocade sponsored Audi R8 in the "Petit Le Mans" 10-hour race at Road Atlanta, the Sussex team's eighth and final sportscar endurance event of the year.

"Atlanta is one of the most challenging and fun tracks that I've raced on in America and is very similar to Brands Hatch in England," commented Johansson. "Although I have always enjoyed racing there it has never been a particularly lucky circuit for me although I did finish second in a Joest run Porsche in 1998.

"This time around I'll be trying to defeat Joest in the shape of the factory Audis and I'm expecting a hard battle. It will be a very tough race both on the cars and the drivers."

A victory plus a third and fourth at Most (CZ), Donington Park (GB) and Jarama (SP) respectively earned Johansson the ELMS Driver's title, Johansson Motorsports the Teams' Championship and Audi the Manufacturers' "crown" in the LMP900 division.

In the British team's last ALMS race at Laguna Seca, California (9 Sep), their Gulf Audi started from the front row and recorded third place but BAR Formula One test driver Lemarié is under no illusion that this weekend's 1,000-mile race will be tough.

Lemarié added: "The Johansson Motorsports team have already shown that they are competitive against the Infineon Audis and Panoz. Our Gulf Audi led at Sebring and Donington and looked like winning at Jarama when we were up against these cars. We qualified on the front row and finished third in the last race at Laguna Seca so we're looking for a strong result."

A field of over 30 cars, contesting four different classes according to engine capacity, is expected to line-up for the Audi North America sponsored Atlanta 10-hour race christened the "Petit Le Mans". Audi has already secured the Manufacturers' title for a second consecutive year thanks to five Stateside wins from seven races although any one of its four "works" drivers, Emanuele Pirro (I), Frank Biela (D), Rinaldo Capello (I) and Tom Kristensen (Den) are mathematically capable of claiming the Driver's "crown" won by Britain's Allan McNish last year.

An Audi victory would be the 20th time an R8 sportscar has won from 24 races since its début in March 2000.

-Audi UK-

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Series ALMS
Drivers Stefan Johansson , Rinaldo Capello , Allan McNish , Frank Biela , Patrick Lemarié , Emanuele Pirro