SONOMA, Calif. (July 22) -- Pit stop strategy helped Rinaldo Capello and Tom Kristensen score a victory Sunday at Sears Point Raceway in the American Le Mans Series The X-Factor Grand Prix of Sonoma. The drivers benefited from a team decision to...
SONOMA, Calif. (July 22) -- Pit stop strategy helped Rinaldo Capello and Tom Kristensen score a victory Sunday at Sears Point Raceway in the American Le Mans Series The X-Factor Grand Prix of Sonoma.
The drivers benefited from a team decision to stretch time between pit stops in the two-hour, 45-minute sports car endurance race. The decision allowed the team to make its final pit stop into a 20-second fuel splash that kept the Audi R8 in the race lead.
Capello, from Italy, and Denmark's Kristensen scored a 6.674-second win over Audi teammates Emanuele Pirro and Frank Biela. Capello, the ALMS points leader, won for the third time in three races this season.
"Our cars were very even," said Capello of the two Audi factory machines. "It was only the traffic that separated us on the track. But they made the wrong strategy and you can see the result." David Brabham and Jan Magnussen, driving a Panoz LMP-1, finished third, on the lead lap with the two Audis. The race was the first for the ALMS in four months, and six remain in the series championship schedule.
Corvette drivers Ron Fellows of Canada and Johnny O'Connell of Flowery Branch, Ga., finished fifth overall and took honors in the GTS class for the second time in three races. They beat Corvette teammates Andy Pilgrim and Kelly Collins by 5.3 seconds.
The GT class victory went to former Formula One and CART driver JJ Lehto of Finland, who teamed with Jorg Muller of Germany to finish seventh overall. Driving a BMW M3 GTR, Lehto and Muller led a BMW sweep of the top four spots in GT, the first loss in the series this year for Porsche.
The GT cars of Fredrik Ekblom and Hans Stuck collided on the last lap while battling for second place in class, with Stuck spinning and losing the position to Ekblom. After the race, officials of Professional Sports Car Racing, the sanctioning body for the ALMS, announced that Ekblom was penalized 35 seconds, which placed him behind Stuck in the final finish order. In addition, Ekblom was placed on probation for one race.
Officials of SPORTS CAR also announced that Magnussen would be fined $5,000 for attempting to perform a "donut" maneuver on pit lane following the race.
The next race for the American Le Mans Series will be the Grand Prix of Portland on Aug. 5 at Portland (Ore.) International Raceway.