Lehto leads early at Road Atlanta

Champion Racing's J.J. Lehto leads the Infineon Team Joest Audi of Marco Werner in the early going of the sixth annual Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. Lehto, who moved from third to first less than half way through the first lap, must win today's race to have an outside shot of overtaking Werner and his co-driver Frank Biela in the ALMS drivers' championship.

#38 Team ADT Champion Racing Audi R8: Johnny Herbert, JJ Lehto, Stefan Johansson.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.
However, even if Lehto wins, Biela and Werner can still clinch the drivers' title if they finish at least sixth in LMP900.

Olivier Berretta, driving the first of the JML Panoz entries, lies third, followed by Scott Maxwell in the second JML Panoz and Jon Field's Lola EX257/AER, the LMP 675 leader.

Field, last year's LMP 675 champion, trails Chris Dyson in the drivers' championship, which Dyson can clinch by completing seventy percent of the race. Dyson is running second in class.

Second place qualifier James Weaver led the 36-car American Le Mans Series field into the first turn, but an early pit stop for an electrical problem and a subsequent spin dropped Weaver from contention.

In GTS, Oliver Gavin's Corvette leads the Prodrive Ferrari of David Brabham, Ron Fellows in the other Corvette, and the second Prodrive Ferrari of Alain Menu. The third Prodrive Ferrari sits in fifth. Ferrari must sweep the GTS podium to clinch the manufacturers' championship; a task that became more difficult for the Italian manufacturer after Emanuele Naspetti spun and made contact with Jorg Bergmeister's Alex Job Porsche, bringing out the race's second caution.

David Murry's J-3 Racing Porsche is pacing the GT field. The White Lightning Porsche of Johnny Mowlem sits second, followed by Sascha Maassen in the Alex Job Racing Porsche.