Lehto, Werner Look For More in Record-Setting American Le Mans Series Season Braselton, GA - It could be one of those eerie coincidences that both drivers are 38 years old and that they race in car ...
Lehto, Werner Look For More in Record-Setting American Le Mans Series Season
Braselton, GA - It could be one of those eerie coincidences that both drivers are 38 years old and that they race in car #38.
JJ Lehto and Marco Werner have already clinched the American Le Mans Series driving title for 2004 in record-setting fashion, and have helped their team, ADT Champion Racing, win its first ALMS team title. In addition, they have helped Audi win its fifth straight ALMS manufacturer's championship in the top LMP1 class.
But the two drivers are not backing off as the final event of the season, the Audi Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif., comes up Oct. 14-16.
In their first season together as co-drivers, Lehto and Werner hope to win their seventh race, a mark that would break the series' record for the most overall race wins in a single season. Their win in the most recent event, Chevy presents Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on Sept. 25, was their sixth in eight races this season and tied the record that was set in 2000 by Rinaldo Capello and Allan McNish with the former factory Audi team.
Lehto, from Finland, has been racing in the ALMS since the formation of the series in 1999. While racing for the former BMW factory team, the former Formula One driver was part of the overall-winning team in the inaugural ALMS event at Sebring, Fla., that year and has enjoyed a stellar ALMS career, one of the highlights coming this season as he won his first driving title.
Germany's Werner, has had a brief but remarkable career in the ALMS. Despite limited experience in Prototype race cars prior to last year, Werner won the LMP1 driving title with Frank Biela in 2003, his first season on the series, and was victorious in his first-ever ALMS event at Sebring. After spending last season with Infineon Team Joest, the Audi factory driver switched to the Champion team this season and won his second title in two tries.
Some of the accomplishments of Lehto and Werner this season include:
* Lehto's winning ways in 2004 have placed him atop two categories in the all-time statistics of the ALMS. He now holds the series records for the most overall race wins (16) and the most LMP1 class race wins (16). He caught and passed Biela for both records this season, Biela having taken his 15th LMP1 win (and 14th overall win) in the 2004 season opener at Sebring. Biela has been racing in Europe this season in the DTM series for touring cars.
* Werner has one of the best winning percentages of any driver in any form of racing. His ALMS career consists of 17 races and he has scored wins in 11 of them, a 65 percent record of winning, in addition to winning driving titles in both seasons.
* Lehto's win in the Petit Le Mans was his 20th career win in the ALMS, moving him into a tie with Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell for second place on the series' all-time career wins list. Four of Lehto's wins came in the GT class in 2001. He is only the fourth driver in series history to reach the 20-win plateau. Sascha Maassen, who got his 22nd career win in the recent Petit Le Mans, remains the most winning driver in ALMS history. All of Maassen's wins have been in the GT class.
* Lehto has competed in 47 of the 55 ALMS races that have been held since the formation of the series, tied for third on the career starts list with Ron Fellows and Jan Magnussen. Only Johnny O'Connell (52 starts) and David Brabham (49) have appeared in more ALMS races.
* In his 47 ALMS starts, Lehto has finished on the podium (top three) 40 times, the most of any driver.
"Number two is just fantastic," said Werner. "This is a great team, and the Audi is a wonderful race car. JJ has been a perfect teammate."
"It feels good to win the championship this way," said Lehto. "I've worked hard with Champion Racing and with Marco. It's been a pleasure working with him."
The Audi Sports Car Championships event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will get the green flag at 4 p.m. (PDT) on Saturday, October 16. The American Le Mans Series Radio Network will have live coverage that can be heard online at www.americanlemans.com, and MotorsTV will have live flag-to-flag coverage that can be seen in Europe beginning at 24:00 (UK) and 01:00 (Paris).
In North America, NBC Sports will have coverage of the event on a one-day tape delay beginning at 2 p.m. (EDT) on Sunday, October 17.
Event ticket information is available online at www.americanlemans.com or by calling the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca ticket office at 800-327-7322.