Mid-Ohio: Race report

Lehto, Werner Win American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio Lexington, OH - JJ Lehto and Marco Werner won Sunday's American Le Mans Series race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, dominating the event after both contending Dyson Racing Lola machines experienced...

Lehto, Werner Win American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio

Lexington, OH - JJ Lehto and Marco Werner won Sunday's American Le Mans Series race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, dominating the event after both contending Dyson Racing Lola machines experienced problems.

The win was the first as teammates for Lehto and Werner, co-drivers this season in the ADT Champion Racing Audi R8. They won by a lap over the Dyson Racing Lola EX257-AER/MG of Chris Dyson and Andy Wallace, which had led 35 laps early in the race.

Lehto, from Finland, gained the lead on an exchange of pit stops just over an hour into the timed event of two hours, 45 minutes, on the 2.25-mile road course. Werner, from Germany, had driven in the first hour but had been passed for the lead by Wallace. Wallace and Werner remained close as Wallace stayed in front for 35 laps.

Werner survived a collision with another car while trying to catch Wallace and the Audi sustained only minor damage.

After gaining the lead, Lehto built an advantage over Chris Dyson, who replaced Wallace during the only full-course caution of the event, and Dyson later spun and lost a lap while trying to make up the deficit. Lehto then maintained the advantage to the finish.

"Marco did a brilliant job is his stint and had a hard fight with Andy," said Lehto, who scored his 15th win in the ALMS. "It was very clever of the Dyson team to not go to Le Mans and instead stay here and prepare their cars. They will obviously be very competitive in the next few races."

"The car was good, as fast as the Audi," said Wallace. "But today was just not our day."

Finishing third overall and winning the GTS class was the Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C5-R of Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell. The overall podium finish matched the existing ALMS record for the highest finish by a GTS car, the record set in Adelaide, Australia, in 2000.

The pole-sitting Dyson Lola of James Weaver and Butch Leitzinger, which had been expected to contend strongly for the win, lost an engine on the first lap of the race. The third position in the LMP1 class was taken by the Intersport Racing Lola B160-Judd of Jon Field and Duncan Dayton.

CORVETTES BATTLE TO 1-2 IN GTS

Fellows and O'Connell extended their lead in the series point standings with their second consecutive GTS class win of the season, having also won the season-opening Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. The 18th career ALMS win for both drivers moved them into a tie with Lucas Luhr for second place on the series' all-time wins list.

The two have also won all three years that the ALMS has raced at Mid-Ohio.

Fellows, who drove the first stint, chased the Corvette Racing team car driven by Oliver Gavin in the first hour of the race, occasionally closing but maintaining a consistent presence.

The race was decided in the pits as Gavin's car pitted first, under green, and Fellows remained on the track and benefited when the full-course caution came out shortly after. He handed the car and a large lead over to O'Connell, who then withstood a charge by Olivier Beretta (replacing Gavin) for a 33.470 seconds win.

"Sometimes getting a big lead like that can play on your mind," said O'Connell. "You're just thinking 'don't mess this up' and then you do mess up. Olivier had some clear laps and gained on me, but then once we both got into traffic it evened out."

"We got a lucky break when the yellow came out," said Fellows. "It was just strategy that the 4 was going to pit sooner. A win is a win is a win, like I always say."

Johnny Mowlem and Terry Borcheller finished third in class in the ACEMCO Saleen S7R, Mowlem passing the Lamborghini of David Brabham for third place with only minutes left in the race.

FLYING LIZARD SCORES FIRST ALMS WIN

The Flying Lizard Motorsports team, in only its second ALMS race, scored a convincing victory in the GT class with Johannes Van Overbeek and Darren Law driving a Porsche 911 GT3 RSR to a 35.578-second win. Finishing second was the Alex Job Racing Porsche of Timo Bernhard and Jorg Bergmeister.

"You have to give credit to everyone on the Flying Lizard crew," said Van Overbeek, who won his only other ALMS race in 1999 at Road Atlanta in a BMW. "They have been instrumental in getting everything down. They all have something to bring to the table. My co-driver Darren (Law) is great. Everyone on the crew has busted their hump since winter to get us to where we are. No one has let up and the results show."

Law, a longtime veteran of sports car racing, won for the first time in ALMS competition. "It feels great," he said. "This team is unbelievable and I got this win in my second race with them. It was the second race for the team but not for the people on it, they have been doing this for a very long time. They do a great job and we did a lot of testing."

Finishing third in class was the Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing Porsche of David Murry and Craig Stanton.

In its race debut, the new Panoz Motor Sports Panoz Esperante GT-LM ran strongly, with David Saelens bringing the car to second before the car was damaged in a tangle with the second Flying Lizard Porsche.

INTERSPORT WINS AT LE MANS AND THEN MID-OHIO

Clint Field and the Intersport Racing Team, based in nearby Dublin, Ohio, wanted to do well at their home track after winning the LMP2 class two weeks ago at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Their wish came true as Field and co-driver Robin Liddell won the class at Mid-Ohio.

"I want to thank Pirelli (Tire) for bringing Robin to the team for this race because he's a great driver," said the 21-year-old Field. "It feels great to win at home. The car was prepared perfectly. I am very happy with the result."

The car that had been the fastest in the class and had started on the pole, the Team Bucknum Racing Pilbeam MP91, fell to the same fate as did the Dyson Lola as it lost its engine on the first lap. Drivers Jeff Bucknum, Chris McMurry and Bryan Willman didn't have the chance to repeat their Mid-Ohio win from 2002.

"Its just too bad," said Field of the retirement of the Bucknum car. "Jeff Bucknum is a great driver and he would have kept the car up there. We could have been

challenging to him this weekend but that's the way it turned out."

Finishing second in class was the Race Car Company Lola-Millington of Ryan Eversley and Andy Lally, while third was the Lola-Nissan of James Gue and Ian James.

ON TO LIME ROCK

ALMS teams will move across the Northeastern U.S. to Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn., for the July 2-5 New England Grand Prix. The race will be the first-ever event for the series at the historic track.

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Andy Wallace , Duncan Dayton , David Saelens , David Brabham , Butch Leitzinger , James Weaver , Ron Fellows , Johnny O'Connell , David Murry , Robin Liddell , Jon Field , Lucas Luhr , Ian James , Andy Lally , Terry Borcheller , Oliver Gavin , Darren Law , Jörg Bergmeister , Timo Bernhard , Marco Werner , Clint Field , Chris McMurry , Bryan Willman , Jeff Bucknum , Johnny Mowlem , Craig Stanton , Olivier Beretta , Ryan Eversley , Alex Job , Chris Dyson , JJ Lehto
Teams Corvette Racing , Dyson Racing , Alex Job Racing , Flying Lizard Motorsports