MONTEREY, Calif. (Sept. 3, 2001) -- Though nothing is certain in auto racing, there are four strong reasons why an Audi R8 Prototype may end up in victory lane following Sunday's American Le Mans Series event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. With...
MONTEREY, Calif. (Sept. 3, 2001) -- Though nothing is certain in auto racing, there are four strong reasons why an Audi R8 Prototype may end up in victory lane following Sunday's American Le Mans Series event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
With the addition of the Gulf Audi of Johansson Motorsports to the strong entry list for the Monterey Sports Car Championships presented by Mazda, there will be four of the powerful and successful Audi R8 machines in the field for the two-hour, 45-minute sports car endurance race.
The field will be led by the two factory Audis, with American Le Mans Series points leader Rinaldo Capello sharing the silver and yellow #1 machine with Tom Kristensen. The silver and red #2 will be co-driven by Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro, who joined with Kristensen in June to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the second straight year.
The privately-entered Champion Audi will be steered by former Formula One winner Johnny Herbert and fellow Englishman Andy Wallace. Though the team has not yet won this season in ALMS competition, it has come close, and the white #38 has run at the front of the field on many occasions.
Joining the group will be the powder blue and orange Gulf Audi of Johansson Motorsports, owned by ex-Formula One star Stefan Johansson of Sweden. Johansson recently wrapped up the 2001 European Le Mans Series driving championship, as well as the manufacturer's title in the series for Audi. With racing concluded in that series, Johansson has relocated his team to the United States to compete in the final two rounds of the ALMS season. He will co-drive with Patrick Lemarie.
Since its debut in 2000, when it won the 12 Hours at Sebring, the Audi R8 has been a force in sports car racing. The car won 11 consecutive ALMS races from July of 2000 until having its winning streak snapped in August of this year. In addition, it won the 24 Hours of Le Mans two straight years and took victory in three of the five rounds of the European Le Mans Series this season.
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, rich in sports car racing history, was the scene for a sweep of the top two positions last year by the factory team. Capello was driving the winning car last year, while Kristensen will be making his first appearance at the circuit. The Biela/Pirro duo finished second in last year's race.
Sunday's race starts at 12 noon (PDT) and will be televised live in the United States by NBC Sports beginning at 4 p.m. (EDT). Live coverage by the American Le Mans Series Radio Web can be heard online at www.americanlemans.com.
The racing weekend will also include events for the Trans-Am Series, as well as the Historic IMSA GTP Series, the SPEEDVISION World Challenge GT and Touring Car Series, and the Star Mazda Series. Ticket information for the weekend is available online at www.laguna-seca.com, or by calling 1-800-327-7322. Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is located on Highway 68 between Monterey and Salinas, Calif.