MONTEREY, Calif. (September 22, 2002) -- Emanuele Pirro and Frank Biela led every lap en route to victory in the American Le Mans Series Monterey Sports Car Championships event Sunday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Pirro, from Italy, battled...
MONTEREY, Calif. (September 22, 2002) -- Emanuele Pirro and Frank Biela led every lap en route to victory in the American Le Mans Series Monterey Sports Car Championships event Sunday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Pirro, from Italy, battled fellow Audi R8 driver Tom Kristensen during the first half of the race, but Germany's Biela had clear sailing after taking over the car for his stint. The second Audi fell out of contention due to a broken suspension piece shortly after Kristensen yielded the car to co-driver Rinaldo Capello.
The Pirro/Biela Audi Sport North America car finished 25.799 seconds ahead of the Audi R8 of Johnny Herbert and Stefan Johansson in the two hour, 45-minute timed event on the 2.238-mile circuit. JJ Lehto and Max Angelelli finished third, one lap back, in a Cadillac Northstar LMP 02.
"It was a perfect race for me," said Pirro, who teamed with Biela to win last year's ALMS event at the track as well. "I thank God the setup (on the car) did not go away. I was confident of being in control of the situation, and I was not worried."
"For the last 30 minutes I was worried about everything, but finally made it," said Biela. "We had a good car that was well-balanced, but in the back of my mind the bad luck we have had in past races this year was there, so I was needing better luck."
Claudia Huertgen of Germany teamed with Steve Knight of Castle Rock, Col., and Chad Block of York, Penn., to win the LMP 675 class for smaller Prototypes. Driving a Lola EX257-MG, they beat another Lola driven by James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger by 32 seconds.
The win was the first this season for the KnightHawk team, which won two events in the LMP 675 class last year. "This is better than apple pie at mom's place," said Knight, co-owner of the team. "We've worked so hard with this MG Lola and now we have a win with it."
Tomas Enge of the Czech Republic and Peter Kox of The Netherlands won the GTS class in the Prodrive Ferrari 550 Maranello, stopping the seven-race winning streak this season by the factory Corvette team. The Ferrari was clearly the fastest car throughout the race, only losing the lead during pit stop exchanges.
Terry Borcheller and Franz Konrad finished second in a Saleen S7R, while the Corvette of Kelly Collins and Andy Pilgrim was third in class despite running out of fuel with moments remaining in the race.
GTS class leader Ron Fellows, who had to start last in the field in his Corvette after his team elected to change tires after qualifying, collided with the Prototype driven by Angelelli and spun off the track. The exhaust system of the car suffered damage in the accident and caused the bodywork to catch fire after the car had been serviced and Johnny O'Connell had replaced Fellows at the wheel. Fellows stopped the car in Turn 8 and bailed out unharmed before helping safety workers to extinguish the fire.
Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr, both of Germany, won the GT class in the Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RS. It was the fifth win of the season for the pair. They inherited the lead from the Job team car co-driven by Timo Bernhard and Jorg Bergmeister when the gear shift broke while Bernhard was leading the class.
The next race for the American Le Mans Series will be the Cadillac American Le Mans Challenge, part of Grand Prix Americas in Downtown Miami on Oct. 4. The season will end with Audi presents Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on Oct. 12.