BRASELTON, Ga. (April 10, 2002) -- American Le Mans Series driver Johnny Herbert has set himself up for a busy and stress-filled month of May as he attempts to compete in races in California and Indiana and prepares for a race in France. But the...
BRASELTON, Ga. (April 10, 2002) -- American Le Mans Series driver Johnny Herbert has set himself up for a busy and stress-filled month of May as he attempts to compete in races in California and Indiana and prepares for a race in France. But the jovial Englishman says he is under no pressure at all.
Herbert will co-drive the Champion Audi with Andy Wallace in the American Le Mans Series Grand Prix of Sonoma presented by Fosters at California's Sears Point Raceway on May 19. The former Formula One star made his ALMS debut in last year's event at Sears Point.
But competing at Sears Point will only be part of Herbert's transcontinental schedule in May. He will also fulfill a lifelong dream by attempting to compete in the Indianapolis 500, an event which is spread over most of the month, and he will prepare for the 24 Hours of Le Mans with an important practice session in France.
"It will be very busy, but fortunately my lifestyle is accustomed to that," said Herbert, who scored three wins before retiring from the Formula One circuit in 2000.
He will start the month in France, participating in pre-practice for the 24 Hours of Le Mans on May 5 at the Circuit de la Sarthe. Herbert will co-drive in the June 15-16 running of the famed endurance racing classic with Rinaldo Capello and Christian Pescatori in an Audi R8 fielded by Audi Sport North America. The trio won at Sebring last month to start the 2002 ALMS season, Herbert's first win on the series.
After a day of testing at Le Mans, Herbert will fly to Indianapolis to begin practice for the Indianapolis 500. He will stay at the famed Brickyard for the opening weekend of qualifying May 11-12, hoping to lock in a slot in the field of 33 for the event in the Duesenberg Brothers Racing entry and make his first oval track racing start ever.
Because of his commitment to Champion Racing and the ALMS, he must make the field on the first weekend of qualifying because he will not be able to participate in any more qualifying. Bubble Day at Indy, the final day, is on the same day as the ALMS event at Sears Point.
"I don't really look at it as being under pressure (to qualify the first weekend)," said Herbert, who tested Indy Racing League cars last year. "I want to do well on that first day of qualifying and I'm taking that approach. Strangely enough, I'm not bothered by it at all. Instead, I consider it a challenge and it's one that I'm looking forward to. I'm confident we can do well that first day."
After the first weekend of qualifying, Herbert will practice at Indy on May 15-16 and then fly to California for the opening of practice at Sears Point on May 17. ALMS qualifying will be on Saturday, May 18, with the two-hour, 45-minute race to be run on Sunday afternoon.
"I'm really looking forward to getting back to Sears," said Herbert. "The championship of the American Le Mans Series is very important to me, and we have a very good chance of getting Champion Racing's first win there."
After the race, he will return to Indianapolis to begin final preparations for the May 26 running of the 500.
Ticket information for the Grand Prix of Sonoma presented by Fosters is available online at www.searspoint.com or by calling the raceway ticket office at 1-800-870-RACE. The event will be televised live by SPEED Channel beginning at 4 p.m. (EDT) and the broadcast by the American Le Mans Series Radio Web can be heard online at www.imsaracing.net.