MONTEREY, Calif. (September 14, 2002) -- He's a three-time winner of the world's most famous endurance race and a multi-time race and pole winner on the American Le Mans Series. But German driver Frank Biela has found a deep respect for Mazda ...
MONTEREY, Calif. (September 14, 2002) -- He's a three-time winner of the world's most famous endurance race and a multi-time race and pole winner on the American Le Mans Series. But German driver Frank Biela has found a deep respect for Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Biela and defending American Le Mans Series champion Emanuele Pirro of Italy will be co-drivers for Audi Sport North America as the series makes its annual visit to the picturesque racing circuit for the Monterey Sports Car Championships event Sept. 20-22. A two-hour, 45-minute event for the ALMS at noon on Sunday, Sept. 22, will highlight the weekend.
Biela, Pirro and Tom Kristensen drove an Audi R8 Prototype to their third consecutive win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June, becoming the first trio of drivers ever to win three straight in the endurance classic. However, though they have been fast and in contention all season, Biela and Pirro have only one win (Mid-Ohio) on the ALMS this year. They hope to change that with their second straight win at what Biela calls a difficult track.
"I don't know why, but it's definitely one of the most difficult circuits," said Biela of the 2.238-mile, 11-turn Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. "To find a good setup is very difficult, and it's physically very hard. Last year was a very close and tough race and I expect something like that again."
Biela, like most drivers, finds the famous "Corkscrew" turn, a series of downhill twists, particularly intriguing.
"The Corkscrew, unfortunately, is really one of the corners that you never know if you will come out of again," he said. "It is very tricky. If you have found the line once, it makes it a bit easier, but to get used to it, especially the braking point, is very tricky. But it is the same for everybody and we have to handle it."
The Audi drivers will definitely rate as the favorites in the event, along with Kristensen and driving partner Rinaldo Capello in the second factory Audi. Kristensen and Capello have won three of the last four ALMS events, and Kristensen leads the series championship standings for drivers.
Four classes of American Le Mans Series sports cars will compete in the event, including the Prototype 900 and 675 classes and the production-based GTS and GT classes. All will be competing for class wins as well as thee overall race victory.
NBC Sports will have live coverage of the event beginning at 4 p.m. (EDT), and the American Le Mans Series Radio Web will have live coverage online at www.americanlemans.com.
In addition to the American Le Mans Series race, the weekend at Mazda Raceway will also include races for the SPEED World Challenge GT and Touring cars, the Star Mazda Series, the Mazda Miata Challenge and World SuperKarts. Ticket information for the Monterey Sports Car Championships is available online at www.laguna-seca.com or by calling 1-800-327-7322.