Miami: Race report

Johnny Herbert and JJ Lehto scored their third American Le Mans Series win of the season Saturday by driving the ADT Champion Racing Audi R8 to victory in Grand Prix Americas presented by Sportsbook.com on the Miami Downtown Street Circuit. The...

Johnny Herbert and JJ Lehto scored their third American Le Mans Series win of the season Saturday by driving the ADT Champion Racing Audi R8 to victory in Grand Prix Americas presented by Sportsbook.com on the Miami Downtown Street Circuit.

The win was extra sweet for Champion team owner Dave Maraj, who bases the team in nearby Pompano Beach, Fla., and for team sponsor ADT, also headquartered in the Miami area.

The winning car finished 40.642 seconds ahead of the runner-up Infineon Team Joest Audi R8 of Frank Biela and Marco Werner. With their second-place finish, Biela and Werner moved closer to winning the LMP 900 class driving title for the 2003 season, with only Lehto having any chance of unseating them in the season-ending Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta Oct. 18.

The first and second-place cars ran the two-hour, 45-minute race on one fuel stop, each team planning its race strategy on the high likelihood of numerous yellow-flag laps on the tight 1.15-mile street circuit. Only 36 of the 157 race laps were run under caution, but the yellows were spaced far enough apart for the strategies to work.

“We did plan it that way, and it worked in our favor,” said Herbert, who drove nearly two hours of the race. “We still had to save fuel the last part of the race, we had to back off a bit. That saved so much fuel (that we could finish). It was perfect for us. We had some fuel in the end, I got the final warning light about one lap from the finish.

“It’s massive for Dave Maraj and the team,” he said. “He tells me he could have gone cruising in the Carribean, but he chooses to do this because he loves motorsports. It’s great, we can both give him this victory down here. We get all the glory, but the team does all the work."

The Panoz LMP01 of Olivier Beretta and David Saelens finished third in the LMP 900 class for JML Team Panoz.

The Dyson Racing Lola EX257-MG of Chris Dyson and Andy Wallace won the LMP 675 class, taking the lead near the end of the race after their team car driven by James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger experienced a drivetrain problem while leading the class. Weaver and Leitzinger still finished second in class, two laps behind Dyson and Wallace. The cars had battled among themselves for a great portion of the race, with the veteran Wallace raving about the track afterward.

"Its really good fun to drive here, even though it seems crazy sometimes,” he said. “I enjoy street circuits and I like this track. I don't get to race enough of them (street circuits). It keeps you awake, that's for sure."

Dyson’s win, coupled with the fourth-place class finish of nearest challengers Duncan Dayton and Jon Field, moved him closer to winning the LMP 675 class driving championship. “I'm not sure yet how we will go into the Peitit. This should give us a bit of a comfort zone going into the last race,” said Dyson after his fourth class win of the season. “The bigger the lead the better.”

It was a great day for Ferrari as cars from the Italian manufacturer swept the top three spots in the GTS class, the first time that has happened in ALMS history. The Prodrive Ferrari 550 Maranello of David Brabham and Darren Turner took the class win, with the other Prodrive entry of Tomas Enge and Peter Kox 1.778 seconds behind in second place. The Team Olive Garden Ferrari of Mimmo Schiattarella and Emanuele Naspetti finished third.

The win was the third straight for Brabham in the GTS class, while Turner, who was substituting for Jan Magnussen as Brabham’s teammate, scored his first career ALMS win.

“It was a very difficult race with the traffic and the conditions,” said Brabham. “It was hard to pass and then it started raining right at the end and parts of the track were slick. I have to thank Darren, who did a great job for us.”

“It was my first street race and I really liked it,” said Turner, who won in only his second ALMS start. “It seemed that the traffic really worked well for me during my stint. I got very hot in the car and needed to get out, but then I was disappointed when they told me David would finish and I wouldn’t get back in. But winning is great.”

Ron Fellows and Johnny O’Connell finished fourth in class after a multitude of problems during the race but locked up the GTS class driving title for the season.

Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr won the GT class in the Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RS, Maassen’s 20th win in ALMS competition and an early 34th birthday present for the German driver.

The race had boiled down to a battle between the two Job cars, and Maassen and Luhr won after Jorg Bergmeister clipped a wall while leading Luhr near the end of the race.

“It was unfortunate for our teammates,” said Maassen of Bergmeister and Timo Bernhard. “I like celebrating my 20th win and my birthday in Miami. The win was a birthday gift.” r team car lost the rear end and crashed, which threw the win away,” said Luhr. “I was right behind him when he crashed and I couldn't believe it. Then I had to be careful to keep from crashing. I had a hard time (in the rain) at the end keeping the car on the track.”

Finishing second in the GT class was the Risi Competzione Ferrari 360 Modena of Anthony Lazzaro and Ralf Kelleners, with third going to the PK Sport Porsche of Robin Liddell and Alex Caffi.

The finish, with starting position in parentheses, drivers, hometown or country, type car (class), laps completed, reason out, if any, winning time and margin of victory:

1. (1) JJ Lehto, Finland; Johnny Herbert, England; Audi R-8 (P900), 157, 2:42:06.617, 40.642 seconds.
2. (2) Marco Werner, Germany; Frank Biela, Germany; Audi R8 (P900), 157.
3. (7) David Saelens, Belgium; Olivier Beretta, Monaco; Panoz LMP01/EPP (P900), 155.
4. (8) Darren Turner, England; David Brabham, Australia; Ferrari 550 Maranello (GTS), 154.
5. (13) Peter Kox, The Netherlands; Tomas Enge, Czech Republic; Ferrari 550 Maranello (GTS), 154.
6. (5) Andy Wallace, England; Chris Dyson, Pleasant Valley, NY; Lola EX257/AER MG (P675), 152.
7. (14) Lucas Luhr, Germany; Sascha Maassen, Germany; Porsche 911 GT3 RS (GT), 151.
8. (3) Butch Leitzinger, State College, PA; James Weaver, England; Lola EX257/AER MG (P675), 150.
9. (21) Ralf Kelleners, Germany; Anthony Lazzaro, Acworth, GA; Ferrari 360 Modena (GT), 150.
10. (22) Robin Liddell, Scotland; Alex Caffi, Italy; Porsche 911 GT3 RS (GT), 149.
11. (10) Clint Field, Dublin, OH; Michael Durand, Wayland, MA; R&S MkIIIC-ELan (P900), 149.
12. (6) Michael Lewis, San Diego, CA; Tomy Drissi, Hollywood, CA; R&S MK IIIC/Lincoln (P900), 148.
13. (18) Craig Stanton, Long Beach, CA; Johnny Mowlem, England; Michael Petersen, Las Vegas, NV; Porsche 911 GT3 RS (GT), 148.
14. (25) Eliseo Salazar, Chile; Stephan Gregoire, France; Iradj Alexander, Switzerland; Ferrari 360 Modena (GT), 146.
15. (12) Emanuele Naspetti, Italy; Domenico Schiattarella, Italy; Ferrari 550 Maranello (GTS), 145.
16. (17) Jorg Bergmeister, Germany; Timo Bernhard, Germany; Porsche 911 GT3 RS (GT), 143.
17. (30) Romeo Kapudija, Lincolnwood, IL; Spencer Pumpelly, Washington, DC; Andy Lally, New York, NY; Porsche 911 GT3 RS (GT), 143.
18. (27) Shane Lewis, Jupiter, FL; Terry Borcheller, Phoenix, AZ; Ferrari 360 Modena (GT), 143.
19. (23) Jason Workman, Gainesville, GA; Scott Bradley, San Jose, CA; Lola B2K/40/Nissan (P675), 142.
20. (4) Jon Field, Dublin, OH; Duncan Dayton, North Salem, NY; Lola EX257/AER MG (P675), 142.
21. (26) Kevin Buckler, Sonoma, CA; Cort Wagner, Pacific Palisades, CA; Porsche 911 GT3 RS (GT), 142.
22. (32) Jay Policastro, Latrobe, PA; Joe Policastro, Latrobe, PA; Porsche 911 GT3 RS (GT), 138.
23. (36) Pierre Ehret, Santa Rosa, CA; Jeff Zwart, Woody Cr, CO; Porsche 911 GT3 RS (GT), 136.
24. (38) Scott Maxwell, Canada; Gunnar Jeannette, Palm Beach Gardens, FL; Panoz LMP01/EPP (P900), 135, Mechanical.
25. (34) Stephen Earle, Garden Ridge, TX; Mark Neuhaus, Sun Valley, ID; Ferrari 360 Modena (GT), 133.
26. (28) Marc Bunting, Monkton, MD; Chris Gleason, Johnstown, PA; Porsche 911 GT3 RS (GT), 125.
27. (11) Ron Fellows, Canada; Johnny O'Connell, Flowery Branch, GA; Andy Pilgrim, Del Ray Beach, FL; Corvette C5-R (GTS), 122.
28. (29) Justin Jackson, Buford, GA; David Murry, Cumming, GA; Porsche 911 GT3 RS (GT), 113.
29. (31) David Warnock, England; Ron Attaputu, Boca Raton, FL; Porsche 911 GT3 RS (GT), 107, Accident.
30. (33) Brad Nyberg, Houston, TX; Rick Skelton, Atlanta, GA; Joe Foster, Lawrenceville, GA; Panoz Esperante GT-LM/Elan (GT), 68, Mechanical.
31. (16) Franz Konrad, Germany; Robert Nearn, England; Saleen S7R (GTS), 62, Drive shaft.
32. (24) Bill Auberlen, Hermosa Beach, CA; Nic Jonsson, Sweden; BMW M3 (GT), 58, Overheating.
33. (19) Marc Lieb, Germany; Peter Baron, Deerfield Beach, FL; Porsche 911 GT3 RS (GT), 41, Accident.
34. (15) Chris McMurry, Phoenix, AZ; Jeff Bucknum, Lake Havasu City, AZ; Bryan Willman, Kirkland, WA; Pilbeam MP91/Willman 6/1EX (P675), 40, Accident.
35. (20) Jean-Philippe Belloc, France; Tom Weickardt, Whitefish Bay, WI; Dodge Viper GTS-R (GTS), 16, Broken wing.
36. (35) Ross Bleustein, Miami, FL; Carlos de Quesada, Miami, FL; BMW M3 (GT), 15, Gearbox.
37. (9) Kelly Collins, Corona Del Mar, CA; Oliver Gavin, England; Corvette C5-R (GTS), 0. Did Not Start.

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Nic Jönsson
Teams Dyson Racing