Weekly notes of interest 2001-10-02

** PETIT LE MANS TIME HAS ARRIVED -- Practice begins Wednesday at Road Atlanta for Saturday's running of Audi presents Petit Le Mans, the final event of the 2001 American Le Mans Series season. The paddock area at the 2.54-mile...

** PETIT LE MANS TIME HAS ARRIVED -- Practice begins Wednesday at Road Atlanta for Saturday's running of Audi presents Petit Le Mans, the final event of the 2001 American Le Mans Series season. The paddock area at the 2.54-mile road racing circuit is jammed with race cars and transporters, as well as the cargo containers which brought many cars and team equipment from overseas for the event. Forty-seven cars are entered in the sports car endurance race. Practice will be held on Wednesday and Thursday, with a single qualifying session on Friday afternoon to set the starting order for the race. The Petit Le Mans will go for 10 hours or 1,000 miles, whichever comes first, and will start at 12 noon. The Speedvision Network will have live, flag-to-flag television coverage of the race in the United States beginning at 11:30 a.m. Saturday. The American Le Mans Series Radio Web broadcast can be heard online at www.professionalsportscar.com.

PRIVATEER AUDI TEAMS LOG TESTING MILES -- Several American Le Mans Series teams participated in private testing at Road Atlanta over the past weekend, trying to gain some helpful information or experience before the official beginning of practice. The two privateer Audi teams that are entered in the Petit Le Mans took advantage of the testing time to dial in their cars as both are seeking their first American Le Mans Series win of the season. The Johansson Motorsports team, which won the European Le Mans Series championship this season, saw action in the test session with drivers Stefan Johansson and Patrick Lemarie, while Andy Wallace did all of the driving for the Champion Audi team as it tested both days. "We only ran on Sunday while Champion tested both days," said Johansson, a former Formula One driver. "It went okay, not super fast. We have to do some work between now and Wednesday." With co-driver Johnny Herbert not available for the test, Wallace accumulated almost 700 miles of day and night testing in the Champion machine. "We've achieved a good balance on the car and believe we have a good tire choice," said Wallace. "We look to be in an excellent position for the weekend. We may not be out and out quick in qualifying, but during the race we should be able to produce consistently quick times."

BERNARD RETURNS TO ACTION -- Frenchman Eric Bernard, the winner of the 1999 Petit Le Mans, will return to racing this weekend for the first time since suffering a broken leg in a mountain biking accident in July. Bernard will return to the driver's seat of the Team Cadillac LMP 01. "I can't wait to get back in a race car, and I'm looking forward to seeing everybody again in Atlanta," he said. "The doctor gave me the green light last week. He said I was three weeks ahead of schedule with my convalescence, which doesn't mean I'm now back to the form I was in before the accident. There is, however, no better training than to get back in a race car." Bernard will co-drive with Emmanuel Collard and Marc Goossens, and he has no great expectations for his comeback race. "I'll do a stint or two and let Emmanuel and Marc do the bulk of the work," he said. "I'll be slower because I haven't been able to race or work out for nearly three months. So as not to hamper the chances for a good finish in the No. 7 Cadillac, I'll be the 'relief driver' for this race." The Cadillac team will be using its "transition" cars for the last time in this event before breaking out all-new cars for the 2002 season.

ALMS DRIVERS RACE THE MEDIA FOR CHARITY -- Several American Le Mans Series drivers participated in a fundraising event Monday night at Andretti Speed Lab in the Atlanta area, racing go-karts with members of the local media. Proceeds from the event were to benefit the New York City Firefighters September 11 Fund. Drivers were paired with a member of the media for 20-minute races, with a mandatory driver change just as in ALMS competition. The professional drivers raced against each other, and then gave the karts over to their media partners. As could be expected, the competitive nature of the ALMS drivers came through. Didier de Radigues, the LMP 675 champion for the ALMS, made a special trip to Andretti Speed Lab on Monday afternoon and spent nearly two hours practicing on the track. By the end of his practice, he had set the facility's fastest time of the month by nearly two seconds. In addition to de Radigues, ALMS drivers who participated included Rinaldo Capello, Frank Biela, Tom Kristensen, Emanuele Pirro, Patrick Lemarie, Franck Lagorce, Klaus Graf, Ben Devlin, Andrew Davis, David Brabham, Jason Workman, Shane Lewis, Steve Knight, Andy Wallace and Randy Pobst. Following the races, drivers signed autographs and race fans took their turns in the karts, making donations to the fundraiser for the chance to drive as well as the chance to win tickets to Audi presents Petit Le Mans.

O'CONNELL TO HOST FUNDRAISING AUCTION -- Corvette Racing driver Johnny O'Connell will host an auction on Friday night prior to the Petit Le Mans, with the benefactor being the United Way of New York. Many of the auction items were donated by ALMS drivers, as well as other racing competitors. The auction will be held in the Exposition area at Road Atlanta beginning at 6 p.m. A list of donated items can be seen online at http://alms.americanlemans.com. Persons who wish to bid but cannot attend the auction in person may email their bids to petiteauction@aol.com.

MAASSEN WINS SUPERCUP RACE AT INDY -- American Le Mans Series regular Sascha Maassen won Saturday's Porsche-Pirelli Supercup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, then finished second in Sunday's event. The two races were run as part of the United States Grand Prix Formula One event at IMS. Maassen battled with series champion Jorg Bergmeister in both races, with the two swapping finishing positions between the two events. In Sunday's race, Maassen's car suffered front-end damage and he had to drop off of the pace to keep the car from overheating. The win on Saturday was Maassen's second in the series. He will drive the Alex Job Racing/McKenna Porsche in the Petit Le Mans as he chases the GT championship of the American Le Mans Series. Another ALMS regular, Jeff Pabst, also raced in the events at Indy and became the first Canadian to drive in the series. He finished 12th on Sunday after falling out of Saturday's race.

ALMS TO ANNOUNCE 2002 SCHEDULE -- The American Le Mans Series will host a press conference on Friday at Road Atlanta to announce its 2002 schedule of races. New events for Washington and Miami have already been announced, but other new venues will also be a part of the schedule and will be revealed on Friday.

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Series ALMS
Drivers Andy Wallace , Shane Lewis , Johnny Herbert , Stefan Johansson , Rinaldo Capello , Didier de Radigues , Tom Kristensen , Frank Biela , Klaus Graf , Patrick Lemarié , Johnny O'Connell , Emmanuel Collard , Marc Goossens , Franck Lagorce , Ben Devlin , Sascha Maassen , Jörg Bergmeister , Steve Knight , Andrew Davis , Jason Workman , Jeff Pabst , Alex Job , Emanuele Pirro
Teams Corvette Racing , Alex Job Racing