LEHTO, WERNER RETURN TO WINNING WAYS IN NEW ENGLAND GRAND PRIX Marco Werner and JJ Lehto celebrate their victory at Monday's New England Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park. Lakeville, Conn. - JJ Lehto and Marco Werner returned to the top step of the...
LEHTO, WERNER RETURN TO WINNING WAYS IN NEW ENGLAND GRAND PRIX
Marco Werner and JJ Lehto celebrate their victory at Monday's New England Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park.
Lakeville, Conn. - JJ Lehto and Marco Werner returned to the top step of the podium in the American Le Mans Series on Monday, winning the New England Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park for their third victory in four races this season. Their No. 1 Champion Racing Audi R8 survived a packed track to win at Lime Rock for the second year in a row.
Champion Racing continued its momentum following an overall victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans last month with another 1-2 ALMS finish, its third of the year. Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro ran less than a second behind the No. 1 car for the last hour.
Lehto moved back into a tie for the series lead with 23 career victories. He shares the honor with Corvette Racing's Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell.
Lehto and Werner led for the first 1:13 before James Weaver took the lead in the No. 16 Dyson Racing Lola he shared with Butch Leitzinger. But Weaver stalled in pit lane at about the two-hour mark. Once he got the car started again, Weaver was the fastest car on the track. After battling back from a lap down, a broken throttle cable ended his day with about 10 minutes to go.
"My tire pressure was low, which caused me to have a bit of an understeer," Lehto said. "James saw I was having trouble, and he's a clever guy, so he set me up and took advantage. It could have been any of the four prototypes (winning) here today. Infineon is a good track for both cars (Audis and Dysons). You have to get the car setup right, but its still up to the tires at that track."
In LMP2, the No. 10 Miracle Motorsports Courage of Jeff Bucknum, Chris McMurry and John Macaluso posted its first victory since the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in March, the first ALMS race of the season. The car started on the pole and never lost its lead.
"At this race today I was not in my normal seat. They changed them when they went to Le Mans without me," Bucknum said. "I was really fatigued from sliding around. I could have stayed out longer, but it was just a good time to switch. I'm really happy that we could perform so well. Hopefully we can keep our good luck going."
Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta won their first ALMS GT1 race Monday, the New England Grand Prix at Lime Rock.
Olivier Beretta and Oliver Gavin drove the No. 4 Corvette Racing Corvette C6-R to its first victory in the ALMS this year. The duo was second behind the No. 3 sister car of Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell in the last two ALMS rounds but finally broke through Monday. Beretta put his C6-R on the class pole and it stayed there all race.
"Everything went well," Beretta said. "We didn't have any trouble with the car and didn't make any mistakes. I'm very happy to win and happy to have the No. 3 car finish second. The C6 is very strong and very fast at Le Mans and the small tracks. Every race, we have been very strong. Everything has been perfect so far."
It actually was the second win in a row for the duo of Beretta and Gavin. They were the LM GT1 class winners at Le Mans in June with Jan Magnussen, their second straight victory at the world's most famous sports car race.
"We will try (to keep it going)," Beretta said. "The team is strong, and the car is strong. Our competition will be close. The C5 worked well at Infineon, and I think the C6 will do well. At every track, there is a learning curve. But I think we will be OK."
Despite crashing into the tire barrier coming out of Turn 8, the No. 3 Corvette Racing C6-R of Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell finished second. Early in the race, Fellows was trying to let faster cars pass when he slid off track, spun around and made contact on the right side of the Corvette.
The No. 63 ACEMCO Motorsports Saleen S7R finished third. It marked the second straight podium finish for the duo of Terry Borcheller and Johnny Mowlem.
The American Le Mans Series honored its three class-winning teams from last month's 24 Hours of Le Mans on Monday at Lime Rock.
In GT2, the No. 23 Alex Job Racing Porsche of Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas posted their second straight class win. The duo started second but took the lead for good with less than 45 minutes left when the No. 50 Panoz Esperante of Bill Auberlen and Robin Liddell pitted with damage to its right front.
"It was nice fighting. Overall, it was a very nice race," Bernhard said. "The short track managed a lot of overtaking and passing. You had no time to relax. I'm very happy we won it and very happy that the race went so well."
The No. 31 Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Porsche of Patrick Long and Jorg Bergmeister finished second after starting on the pole. Coming in third was the No. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche of Jon Fogarty and Johannes van Overbeek after the duo started eighth in class.
The next race for the American Le Mans Series is the Infineon Technologies Grand Prix of Sonoma presented by Ravenswood Winery, set for 11 a.m. PDT on July 17 at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.