Mosport race report

Biela, Pirro Score First Alms Win Of Year At Mosport BOWMANVILLE, Ontario, Canada (August 19, 2001) -- Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro used pit stop strategy and survived a race of attrition Sunday to win the American Le Mans Series GT3 Grand...

Biela, Pirro Score First Alms Win Of Year At Mosport

BOWMANVILLE, Ontario, Canada (August 19, 2001) -- Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro used pit stop strategy and survived a race of attrition Sunday to win the American Le Mans Series GT3 Grand Prix at Mosport International Raceway.

The win was the first of the year on the series for the Audi R8 drivers, who finished two laps ahead of the runner-up Panoz LMP1-R of Jan Magnussen and David Brabham. The Panoz dominated the first half of the race, but lost the lead and a lap during a slow pit stop and driver change with one hour left in the two-hour, 45-minute race.

After the demise of the Panoz, the race lead fell to former Formula One winner Johnny Herbert, co-driving with Andy Wallace in an Audi R8. Herbert lost the lead a few minutes later when he pitted for fuel and tires and Pirro then took over, holding a lap on both Brabham and Herbert.

The Audi team then brought Pirro in for a fuel-only stop, keeping the car in the lead but giving up the one-lap cushion. Over the next 25 minutes, Herbert cut 10 seconds off of Pirro's 12-second lead, but his race ended when he slid off the track and crashed into a tire barrier in turn two of the 2.2459-mile circuit. He was unhurt.

"We needed this win," said Pirro, who teamed with Biela and Tom Kristensen to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June for the second straight year. "Our car was good and the team made the right call in the pits to get us the win."

The second factory Audi, driven by series point leader Rinaldo Capello, started on the pole but crashed on the opening lap of the race when it slid off the track and into a tire barrier. The race was started under rainy conditions. After repairs, the car returned to the track, but Capello crashed again shortly after and finished 24th.

Canada's Ron Fellows cruised to victory in the GTS class with co-driver Johnny O'Connell, despite having to start near the back of the field due to having clutch problems in Saturday's qualifying. Winning for the fourth time in five ALMS races this year, their Chevrolet Corvette C5-R finished a lap ahead of the second-place Saleen S7R of Franz Konrad and Terry Borcheller.

"We knew the car was good," said Fellows, who survived an off-track excursion and brush against a tire barrier that damaged the rear of the Corvette. "When I hit the grass, I thought I was done. The most damage was to the left rear, and I was afraid the deck might come off. But we still had enough speed to win."

Belgians Didier de Radigues and Bruno Lambert won in the LMP 675 class for smaller Prototypes, driving a Reynard 01Q-Judd. Coming from the rear of the field at the start, de Radigues raced with Claudia Huertgen in another LMP 675 car until the engine in her car failed just past halfway. Lambert, racing in the Dick Barbour machines with de Radigues for the first time, then brought the car home. The win was the third straight in the LMP 675 class for de Radigues, who leads the series point standings.

The GT class was won by JJ Lehto and Jorg Muller in a BMW M3 GTR, who also started at the rear due to a technical violation in qualifying. "It was a good race," said Lehto. "We knew the weather would be bad so we set up the car for that. The crew and Jorg did a good job."

The race attracted one of the largest crowds in recent years at Mosport, despite a steady rain that fell in the morning before the race. "Sports car racing is on the upswing and we're a part of it," said Fellows. "The last time I saw so many people here, I was probably a spectator."

The next race for the ALMS will be its debut event at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, on Saturday, August 25.

-ALMS-

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Series ALMS
Drivers Andy Wallace , Johnny Herbert , David Brabham , Didier de Radigues , Franz Konrad , Bruno Lambert , Frank Biela , Ron Fellows , Johnny O'Connell , Jorg Muller , Terry Borcheller , Dick Barbour , Emanuele Pirro , JJ Lehto