Champion Racing Road Atlanta Saturday notes

The Team ADT Champion Racing Audi R8 of Johnny Herbert and JJ Lehto starts the second round of the American Le Mans Series from third place on the 35-car grid at Road Atlanta. Lehto set a fastest time of 1min 13.826secs around the ...

The Team ADT Champion Racing Audi R8 of Johnny Herbert and JJ Lehto starts the second round of the American Le Mans Series from third place on the 35-car grid at Road Atlanta.

Lehto set a fastest time of 1min 13.826secs around the undulating 2.54-mile, 12-corner course in Georgia. Grid positions were taken by the fastest time set by each car in any session today after officials cancelled the official qualifying session due to heavy rain.

Herbert, 39 last Wednesday, and Lehto are driving together for the first time. Florida-based Champion Racing has finished third (Herbert/Wallace) and second (Herbert/Johansson) in ALMS races at Road Atlanta over the past two years with its "privateer" Audi R8.

Johnny Herbert (39). Born: Brentwood, Essex, UK. Lives: Monte Carlo: ALMS stats: 17 starts, 1 win, 11 top-3s, 15 top-5s, 17 top-10s.

"It would be really nice to win after finishing second and third here for the past two years - and the Champion deserve an ALMS victory. It has taken me time to reacclimatize to the Audi after two races in a Bentley. The seat does not 'hug' me as tightly while the steering wheel on the Audi is much smaller."

JJ Lehto (37). Born: Espoo, Finland. Lives: Monte Carlo: ALMS stats: 31 starts, 10 wins (6 overall), 25 top-3s, 29 top-5s, 31 top-10s.

"Cancelling qualifying was a ridiculous decision. If the track is wet during the session, then it's wet for all of us - it could rain for the race so what is the problem? We now start third which is extremely disappointing after Frank [Biela] knocked us off the front row in the third practice at the end."

Randy Pobst extended his Speed GT World Challenge lead when he swept his Audi RS 6 Competition home to a magnificent third place in the fifth round of the series at Road Atlanta today as Champion Racing team-mate Michael Galati's bad luck continued.

Pobst and Galati started from second and fourth positions respectively on the 24-car grid, Randy making it a fifth straight front row start in his Audi RS 6 Competition with defending GT champion Galati switching to last year's S4 after a testing accident in his RS 6.

Pobst blasted away at the green light to snatch an important early lead although Galati completed the opening lap in 18th place, his S4's rear axle shaft breaking shortly after the start.

Randy led until the 15th lap when ultimate race winner Mike Fitzgerald (Porsche) eased ahead with Pobst surrendering second place to Bill Auberlen (BMW) and then third to Hans Stuck (BMW) three laps later after a tremendous dice.

But Pobst regained third position four laps from the checker - when Auberlen pitted with a puncture - and duly brought his Audi Sport North America RS 6 home to his fifth consecutive podium this season -- and Randy's 15th straight top-three in the series.

Michael Galati (43). Born: Alcaralifusi, Messina, Sicily. Lives: N. Olmsted, Ohio: Speed World Challenge stats: 74 starts, 16 wins, 37 top-3s, 52 top-5s, 63 top-10s.

"I had a good launch at the start but then almost immediately a rear axle shaft broke -- it's the first time an S4 has done a standing start using this year's bigger tires. I just tried to nurse the car home and score some points and was made to work real hard for 13th."

Randy Pobst (46). Born: Dayton, Ohio. Lives: Gainesville, Georgia: Speed World Challenge stats: 19 starts, 6 wins, 16 top-3s, 17 top-5s, 17 top-10s.

"I used its all-wheel-drive traction at the start to the full and then just hung on the best I could at the front. The Champion team is doing a terrific job and continually improving the RS 6 and I'm sure happy to have extended my series lead."

-cr-

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About this article
Series ALMS , PWC
Drivers Johnny Herbert , Randy Pobst , Michael Galati , JJ Lehto