Laguna Seca: Audi preview

SMYRNA, Ga. (September 1, 2003) - The two privateer Audi R8 teams for Audi Sport North America will continue to compete for the American Le Mans Series Championship title with this weekend's running of the Fry's Electronics Sports Car ...

SMYRNA, Ga. (September 1, 2003) - The two privateer Audi R8 teams for Audi Sport North America will continue to compete for the American Le Mans Series Championship title with this weekend's running of the Fry's Electronics Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California, September 5-7.

The duel between the two Audi teams of Infineon Team Joest and Team ADT Champion Racing is keeping American Le Mans Series fans on the edge of their seats. Frank Biela and Marco Werner with the Infineon Team Joest Audi R8 hold an eleven-point lead over JJ Lehto in the Team ADT Champion Racing Audi R8 after six of nine races. After Lehto celebrated his second victory of the season together with teammate Johnny Herbert at Road America, the two former Formula 1 drivers hope to continue their fight at Laguna Seca. "If we want to clinch the title we have to win each of the remaining three races," said JJ Lehto. Johnny Herbert believes that Champion Racing is more than capable of doing this: "The team has learned a great deal and made huge progress during the last few races. Also the pit stops, during which we weren't so good in the past, work perfectly now."

The 2.238-mile circuit of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca has been a part of the American Le Mans Series since the formation of the series in 1999. The track, situated on the Monterey Peninsula of California near the beautiful Monterey Bay, is one of the more popular stops on the ALMS schedule among racers and fans. Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is known for the "Corkscrew," a downhill, spiraling series of left and right turns that is among the most famous and unique in the world. The track layout challenges drivers and race teams.

The Fry's Electronics Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will be televised live by NBC Sports beginning at 4:00 p.m. (EDT). Live coverage of qualifying and the race can be heard free of charge by the American Le Mans Series Radio Web and can be accessed online at www.americanlemans.com

DRIVER QUOTES:

INFINEON TEAM JOEST

Frank Biela:

"The circuit at Laguna Seca is not quite as fast as the previous tracks of Mosport and Road America. Nevertheless, it is very flowing and interesting. It isn't so easy to find a good line and to be quick. Some of the corners drop away on the exit and therefore you don't have so much grip, whereas others are lightly banked and give a high grip level. It is difficult to find a good rhythm. The track is very strenuous, as a driver, you have plenty to do. You can only relax a little on the start and finish straight. That's why it will be a difficult race. However, we have a good car and up till now we were quick everywhere this year. I don't see any reason why it should not be the case in Laguna Seca as well."

Marco Werner:

"I have heard a lot of good things about Laguna Seca. The track is supposed to be very nice. As usual, I'll be entering unknown territory, but as demonstrated in the previous races, I do not have any problems with this. Until now, I have learned all the new circuits very quickly. Also, in the meantime I am very familiar with the Audi R8. That was not the case at the beginning of the season, but now the cat's out of the bag. I get in and can drive on the limit immediately. Therefore, Laguna Seca shouldn't be a problem either. Unfortunately, there are apparently no really quick corners there, as they suit me particularly well. However, I look forward to experiencing other interesting new things such as the famous 'Cork Screw'."

TEAM ADT CHAMPION RACING

Johnny Herbert:

"My first ever experience of Laguna was in 2001 when Andy Wallace and I finished a very close second. I was given a 20-second penalty after contact with Jan Magnussen's Panoz, otherwise I'm sure I'd have won on my Laguna debut. Last year we (Stefan Johansson) finished second again so I would dearly like to think we'll go one better on this occasion especially considering how competitive we've been in recent races."

JJ Lehto:

"I raced at Laguna Seca for the first time in 1997, driving a McLaren in a sportscar race and the following year in CART. But the California track has been very kind to me over the past four years and it's very, very important that success continues this weekend. Our Road America victory has brought us back in to the title race but it's still going to be very tough for us. If we win at Laguna and also the last two races in Miami and Road Atlanta we can snatch the Driver's and Manufacturers' series titles even if Joest finishes second in all three."

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Series ALMS
Drivers Andy Wallace , Johnny Herbert , Stefan Johansson , Jan Magnussen , Frank Biela , Marco Werner , JJ Lehto