Laguna Seca: Champion Racing preview

POMPANO BEACH, Fl. (October 11, 2004) - Team ADT Champion Racing, still celebrating their "Triple Crown" Championship wins from last month's 1-2 finish at Petit Le Mans, will maintain its competitive nature for the final race of the American Le...

POMPANO BEACH, Fl. (October 11, 2004) - Team ADT Champion Racing, still celebrating their "Triple Crown" Championship wins from last month's 1-2 finish at Petit Le Mans, will maintain its competitive nature for the final race of the American Le Mans Series season this weekend as the Champion squad will again field two Audi R8 entries for the Audi Sports Car Championships at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California, October 14-16. Season regulars JJ Lehto and Marco Werner will pilot the No. 38 Audi R8 and Johnny Herbert and Pierre Kaffer return as co-drivers for the No. 2 Audi R8.

Teammates JJ Lehto and Marco Werner have already clinched the American Le Mans Series driving title for 2004 in record-setting fashion, and have helped their team, ADT Champion Racing from Pompano Beach, Florida, win its first American Le Mans Series team title. In addition, they have helped Audi win its fifth straight ALMS Manufacturer's Championship in the top LMP1 class.

In their first season together as co-drivers, Lehto and Werner hope to win their seventh race, a mark that would break the series' record for the most overall race wins in a single season. Their win in the most recent event, Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on September 25, was their sixth in eight races this season and tied the record that was set in 2000 by Rinaldo Capello and Allan McNish with the former factory Audi team.

Lehto, from Finland, has been racing in the ALMS since the formation of the series in 1999. While racing for the former BMW factory team, the former Formula One driver was part of the overall-winning team in the inaugural ALMS event at Sebring, Florida, that year and has enjoyed a stellar ALMS career, one of the highlights coming this season as he won his first driving title.

Germany's Werner has had a brief but remarkable career in the ALMS. Despite limited experience in Prototype race cars prior to last year, Werner won the LMP1 driving title with Frank Biela in 2003, his first season in the series, and was victorious in his first-ever ALMS event at Sebring. After spending last season with Infineon Team Joest, the Audi factory driver switched to the ADT Champion Racing team this season and won his second title in two tries.

Some of the accomplishments of Lehto and Werner this season include:

* Lehto's winning ways in 2004 have placed him atop two categories in the all-time statistics of the ALMS. He now holds the series records for the most overall race wins (16) and the most LMP1 class race wins (16). He caught and passed Biela for both records this season, Biela having taken his 15th LMP1 win (and 14th overall win) in the 2004 season opener at Sebring. Biela has been racing in Europe this season in the DTM series for touring cars.

* Werner has one of the best winning percentages of any driver in any form of racing. His ALMS career consists of 17 races and he has scored wins in 11 of them, a 65 percent record of winning, in addition to winning driving titles in both seasons.

* Lehto's win in the Petit Le Mans was his 20th career win in the ALMS, moving him into a tie with Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell for second place on the series' all-time career wins list. Four of Lehto's wins came in the GT class in 2001. He is only the fourth driver in series history to reach the 20-win plateau.

* Lehto has competed in 47 of the 55 ALMS races that have been held since the formation of the series, tied for third on the career starts list with Ron Fellows and Jan Magnussen.

* In his 47 ALMS starts, Lehto has finished on the podium (top three) 40 times, the most of any driver.

For the first time in its long history, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will host an event that runs into darkness when the American Le Mans Series begins its timed event of four hours at 4 p.m. on Saturday, October 16. Long before the event ends at 8 p.m., darkness will have descended upon the Monterey Peninsula and the ALMS drivers will circulate the 2.238-mile track aided only by their headlight beams and whatever ambient lighting there is around the circuit.

The Audi Sports Car Championships event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will get the green flag at 4 p.m. (PDT) on Saturday, October 16. The American Le Mans Series Radio Network will have live coverage that can be heard online at www.americanlemans.com, and MotorsTV will have live flag-to-flag coverage that can be seen in Europe beginning at 24:00 (UK) and 01:00 (Paris).

In North America, NBC Sports will have coverage of the event on a one-day tape delay beginning at 2 p.m. (EDT) on Sunday, October 17.

DRIVER QUOTES:

Marco Werner (Germany). "Like Atlanta, Laguna is another of the nice ALMS tracks that we visit, especially with the corkscrew, but because it's an evening race with 2 hours in the light and 2 in the dark, I think the track will not be so easy. This is the last race of the season for us, which is a shame because I would like to do some more! But I hope I can come back next year for another season."

JJ Lehto (Finland). "We had a lot of problems with the car last year in the race which ended up having to change the gearbox all of which put us behind in the chase for the championship. This year the championship is already decided, but it's going to be a new experience with a four hour race going into the night, but I'm looking forward to it."

Johnny Herbert (England). "I've always enjoyed Laguna and the Audi is always competitive there as we know from chasing the Audi factory cars in the past! It will be nice to race into the night and I'm looking forward to going back and competing against JJ. Last year we were paired together and had mechanical problems. This year I need to make sure I beat him!"

Pierre Kaffer (Germany). "I hope we have a great event in Laguna as we did in Atlanta. The Atlanta event was a big success for the team and I hope we can do it again. Really it doesn't matter who is first and who is second as long as we have lots of fun - it's the last race of the championship."

For more information on Audi motorsports visit www.audiusa.com. For more information on Champion Racing, visit www.championracing.net.

-audi/cr-

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Series ALMS
Drivers Johnny Herbert , Rinaldo Capello , Jan Magnussen , Allan McNish , Frank Biela , Ron Fellows , Johnny O'Connell , Marco Werner , Pierre Kaffer , JJ Lehto