Road America: Audi Sport North America race report

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (August 24, 2003) -- Team ADT Champion Racing earned a much needed win today in the American Le Mans Series race at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Teammates Johnny Herbert and JJ Lehto in the ...

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (August 24, 2003) -- Team ADT Champion Racing earned a much needed win today in the American Le Mans Series race at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Teammates Johnny Herbert and JJ Lehto in the #38 Audi R8 drove fast, clean and determined. The car performed perfectly and each pit stop was executed flawlessly during the 2:45 minute race.

"It was a great race for Champion today," said Rod Bymaster, Motorsports Manager for Audi of America. "The guys did a great job, Johnny had a great start and ran well throughout. This tightens the Championship up and it should be quite interesting going into the final races."

"This win is something we really needed," said Team ADT Champion driver JJ Lehto. "With this win we are able to catch the Joest team in points so we are a little closer now. The fight is on and it will be a tough fight the next three races. We basically have to win each one and perform at 110 percent."

It was a different story for the rival team of Infineon Team Joest. Pole setter Marco Werner started the race, was passed in turn one by the LMP675 car of Dyson Racing, and then took the lead back on lap seven. Approximately 45 minutes later, Werner would come into the pits for a routine pit stop (fuel, tires, driver change) when the unfortunate would occur. The starter motor broke and the crew could not get the car started again. It took 16 minutes for the crew to replace the starter which ultimately put the Infineon Team Joest Audi eight laps down from the leading car of Herbert and Lehto.

"It looks like we have unveiled the only weak point of the Audi R8," said Ralf Juttner, Technical Director for Infineon Team Joest. "The starter motor becomes very hot at Road America because you are cruising through the uphill pit-lane using the speed limiter for a long time. We were prepared for that, but despite this we got caught. The starter motor simply burned and there was no way to get it back to life by just pushing the car."

With three races to go, Infineon Team Joest (Frank Biela and Marco Werner) are leading the ALMS championship by eleven points ahead of Team ADT Champion Racing (Johnny Herbert and JJ Lehto).

The American Le Mans Series' next race is at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the Monterey Sports Car Championship, the seventh round of the series. The teams take to the track on Friday, September 5th, and the green flag will be waved on Sunday, September 7th at noon, (CDT). NBC will provide live coverage of the race starting at 4:00 pm (EDT). You can also hear live radio coverage of both qualifying and the race from the American Le Mans Series Radio web team at www.americanlemans.com.

Driver quotes:

Infineon Team Joest

Frank Biela: "It's a pity that the starter motor let us down. Marco did a great job during his stint. The car was great and had the potential to win the race. We had the fastest car today, also proved by my fastest race lap, but some bad luck. After changing the starter motor, I was able to do consistently fast lap times despite always being on the safe side in traffic."

Marco Werner: "After the start, things went very well. I was happy with the car, handled traffic well and could even save the tires. I was able to take the 'Kink' almost flat-out, always giving me some advantage over Johnny (Herbert). During the pit-stop, I was looking forward to another stint when the car wouldn't restart. In the end we reduced the damage and can be happy with third place in class."

Team ADT Champion Racing

Johnny Herbert: "I was happy with the start and I just tried to keep up with Marco [Werner] without using too much fuel which I managed to do easily in the early stages. We knew that it would be a tight race on fuel so we ran on a 'lean' fuel setting from the start in case there were no cautions. We [Marco Werner] came in to the pits together but they had starter problems which handed the race to us. Our car was superb and never missed a beat.

JJ Lehto: "When I took over from Johnny it was difficult to keep my concentration as there was nothing to race. I just tried to keep out of trouble and cruise home to the finish. It's not my greatest win because of that fact but it was nevertheless vital. We really needed a maximum points score today to keep our championship hopes alive with just three races remaining. The car and the team are getting better with each race - that's the way it must be in this series."

-www.audiusa.com

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