PORTLAND, OR. (July 25, 2004) - JJ Lehto and Marco Werner, drivers for Team ADT Champion Racing, set an American Le Mans Series record Sunday with their fourth consecutive overall race win as they took a hard-fought victory in the Grand Prix of ...
PORTLAND, OR. (July 25, 2004) - JJ Lehto and Marco Werner, drivers for Team ADT Champion Racing, set an American Le Mans Series record Sunday with their fourth consecutive overall race win as they took a hard-fought victory in the Grand Prix of Portland at Portland International Raceway.
Their ADT Champion Racing Audi R8 spun twice after contact with other cars and was penalized once for contact during the two-hour, 45-minute sports car race event on the 1.944-mile track, all during Lehto's stint behind the wheel. However, the two Lola cars from Dyson Racing that had battled the Audi through the entire race each experienced problems in the last hour of the event and fell from contention. There were eight lead changes among the three cars and the Champion team earned Michelin Tires its 50th overall race win in ALMS history.
"I am never going to forget this race," said Lehto. "It was just one of those races. Lots of hits and spins, this is like nothing I've ever experienced before. It was a lot of hard work. I think it's the first time in my whole racing experience that so much has happened in one race."
"(Watching) was very difficult," said Werner, who drove the last 50 minutes. "I nearly had a heart attack. My heart rate was probably higher than (Lehto's). It was very fun watching, it was the best race I've ever seen."
For much of the first hour of the race, Lehto battled back-and-forth with Chris Dyson, driving the Lola that co-driver Andy Wallace had qualified on the pole. Dyson led 54 laps, many of them with Lehto behind him trying to pass. The car ultimately finished 12 laps down after losing time in the pits with a mechanical problem.
Lehto and Werner became the first drivers in ALMS history to score four consecutive overall wins. The race marked the return of professional sports car racing to Portland International Raceway for the first time since 2001.
The American Le Mans Series next visits Mosport International Raceway Aug. 6-8 for the Grand Prix of Mosport.
JJ Lehto (Finland): "There were some fair things and some very unfair things that went on today. It was an on going fight all the way to the end. I definitely had to push the car all the time to the limit. It wasn't a very nice race for the bodywork of the Audi R8 but this is one of those races that you will remember for a long time. It was the best ALMS race I have ever had!"
Marco Werner (Germany): "JJ did a fabulous job today. It was unbelievable what he did in the beginning. It was one of the best races I have ever watched. It wasn't the best day for our Audi R8 certainly not a lucky day. But to come away with a win today and to make it four victories in a row, which is a record for ADT Champion Racing, that's fine for us."
Brad Kettler (Technical Director): "This was a hell of a fight from the drop of the green flag to the checkered flag. We kept getting knocked back and we came back up. Fortunately the car had a lot of speed and it held together even though it got hit just about everywhere. The ruggedness and robust nature of the Audi R8 came through today."