LEXINGTON, Ohio (August 25, 2001) -- David Brabham and Jan Magnussen came from a lap behind Saturday to win the wild American Le Mans Series debut race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Co-driving a Panoz LMP1-RS in the two-hour, 45-minute sports...
LEXINGTON, Ohio (August 25, 2001) -- David Brabham and Jan Magnussen came from a lap behind Saturday to win the wild American Le Mans Series debut race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Co-driving a Panoz LMP1-RS in the two-hour, 45-minute sports car endurance race, the eventual winners fell a lap behind in the first hour of the race as the Audi R8 driven by Tom Kristensen dominated the event. The complexion of the race changed, though, under a caution period for a stalled car 90 minutes into the event.
Magnussen, who had taken over for Brabham in the Panoz, was able to unlap himself from the lead Audi on the resulting restart, and another caution occurred a few minutes later when Joel Field spun and tapped the wall on the frontstretch of the 2.258-mile circuit. As the field was slowing to pack up behind the safety car, Kristensen passed the safety car, which resulted in the Audi having to serve a stop-and-go penalty after racing resumed.
Magnussen had passed the other cars on the lead lap and took the lead when the Audi pitted for the penalty. He led the rest of the way to an 11.338-second win over Rinaldo Capello, who took over for Kristensen for the final stint. The win was the second in the last three ALMS races for Brabham and Magnussen.
"We won this race in the pits," said Magnussen. "The Audi was faster, but the caution after I got back on the lead lap was a good break for us. Then, when they told me I was in the lead, it was a surprise to me."
"Everybody on the team did a great job today," said Brabham. "We have to beat the Audi because they have such a great team. At the beginning of the season, we never thought we'd be sitting here with two wins."
James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger finished third in a Riley & Scott MkIIIC-Lincoln, with the Audi of Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro fourth, the last car on the lead lap.
Didier de Radigues and Bruno Lambert survived an early spin and a one-lap penalty for pitting when the pits were closed to win the LMP 675 class for smaller Prototypes in a Reynard 01Q-Judd. De Radigues, who won for the fourth consecutive race, tangled with fellow LMP 675 driver Claudia Huertgen on the first lap and spun, falling to the rear of the field. "At the start, my competitor got around me into the corner," he said. "She hit the front of my car and I spun on cold tires. I had to wait until everyone got past me before I could get back on the circuit." The Chevrolet Corvette C5-R of Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell won the GTS class for the fifth time in six ALMS races this season. During Fellows' stint at the start of the race, the car had handling problems and ran third behind the polesitting Saleen S7R of Franz Konrad, as well as the team Corvette driven by Kelly Collins. The Saleen faded and lost a lap later, and the Corvette team made some adjustments that gave O'Connell a car fast enough to take the lead and win the class. "We made some changes to the sway bar before the race that didn't work," said Fellows. "I tried to make some changes, but they were all wrong, too. The car was slipping and sliding. Under our stop, the team made some changes, and then Johnny ran great."
The GT class was won by the BMW M3 of JJ Lehto and Jorg Muller, their third win in the last four races. After starting second in class, Lehto took the lead from polesitter Sascha Maassen quickly, and the car essentially led the rest of the race.
"If you look at JJ's stint, the six top cars in the class were all quite competitive," said Muller. "The cars do equal times, just a tenth up and down all the time. JJ's advantage was that he knows the Prototypes and he just got better through traffic. Sometimes the other cars were a second slower, but he just lost a few tenths, and that's what opened up a gap."
The series will have a weekend off before the Sept. 9 event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif.