Lehto, Werner Clinch American Le Mans Title with Road America 500 Win Elkhart Lake, WI - JJ Lehto and Marco Werner clinched the 2004 American Le Mans Series LMP1 driver championship when they drove the ADT Champion Racing Audi R8 to victory in...
Lehto, Werner Clinch American Le Mans Title with Road America 500 Win
Elkhart Lake, WI - JJ Lehto and Marco Werner clinched the 2004 American Le Mans Series LMP1 driver championship when they drove the ADT Champion Racing Audi R8 to victory in the Road America 500 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., on Sunday.
Werner, who was ALMS champion last year when he co-drove with Frank Biela, became the first driver in ALMS history to win two championships in the series' top Prototype class. Lehto, who has raced in the series since its inception in 1999, won his first title. Two races remain in the 2004 season but no drivers can score enough points to overcome Lehto and Werner.
"Two times is great," said Werner. "This team has done a fantastic job this season and JJ has been a wonderful teammate."
"It feels good to win the championship," said Lehto. "I've come close a few times but it's the first championship I've won since '88 in British Formula 3. I've been working hard with Champion Racing and Marco (Werner). It's been a pleasure working with Marco."
Lehto and Werner won the timed event of two hours, 45 minutes on the 4.048-mile track by a lap over the Intersport Racing Lola B01/60-Judd of Jon Field and Duncan Dayton. Lehto charged back to the front after spinning on the opening lap due to contact with Field's car and falling to the rear of the field.
"It was like I was looking at it in slow motion when all those cars were going by," said Lehto, who had to restart the car when the engine stalled on the spin. "After I stopped swearing, I decided I just had to remain calm and go for it. The car felt really good today and was fast."
The polesitting Dyson Racing Lola B01/60-AER of Butch Leitzinger and James Weaver led the first 29 laps of the race but retired due to a broken exhaust header. The Dyson team car of Chris Dyson and Andy Wallace retired for the same reason after running second in the early going.
JAMES, GUE WIN LMP2 CLASS FOR MIRACLE MOTORSPORTS
Ian James and James Gue won the LMP2 class in the Miracle Motorsports Courage C65-AER, helping clinch the LMP2 class team title and putting a stamp of approval on team owner John Macaluso's decision to buy the French-built car last weekend.
James, who has led the class point standings since winning the season-opening Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, and second-place Gue put more distance on their championship challengers with the victory. Clint Field and Robin Liddell, who had won three consecutive races, were running second when the Intersport Racing Lola B2K/40-Judd had a mechanical problem. The car was excluded from the final results after the team worked on the car away from its pit stall.
Macaluso and Mike Borkowski finished second in class in the Miracle team's Lola-Nissan, while the Team Bucknum Racing Pilbeam MP91-Nissan of Chris McMurry, Bryan Willman and Jeff Bucknum was third in class.
"This is a dream day for me," said Macaluso. "A one-two finish here especially is great. I ran my first pro race at this track in a Can-am car so long ago I don't want to think about it. Today was just great. It just doesn't get any better than this. It was a heck of a debut for the new Courage. The team championship cements our invitation to Le Mans which was our goal for the whole year. Next year we will be in France."
CORVETTE TAKES FOURTH MANUFACTURER'S TITLE
Olivier Beretta and Oliver Gavin won the GTS class in the Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C5-R, finishing 13.837 seconds ahead of the other factory Corvette driven by Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell and clinching Chevrolet's fourth straight ALMS GTS Manufacturer's title.
The ACEMCO Saleen S7R of Terry Borcheller and Johnny Mowlem finished third in class in the race.
The two Corvettes remained close for much of the race but Beretta was able to pull away from Fellows in the final 30 minutes.
"At the start of the race the cars were close but by the end, it wasn't as close," said Beretta, who won for the third time this season with Gavin and second consecutive. "Everyone worked well together, we shared our information. It's a very good team. I am so happy to join this team, it's been lots of fun, but it's also a lot of hard work."
"Finally things are going our way," said Gavin. "My wife and children are here today so that was a big plus. Our car was three seconds faster in the pits almost every time so the crew helped us win. Olivier and I work so well together and this is a strong partnership."
BERNHARD TAKES GT POINT LEAD WITH WIN
Timo Bernhard moved into a narrow lead in the GT class driver standings as he and Jorg Bergmeister won the class in the Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. The win was Bernhard's class-leading fourth of the season and second in a row.
"The beginning of the season the championship was our goal for sure," said Bernhard. "We've worked really hard and we deserve the championship lead. I have to thank Jorg (Bergmeister) and the crew for doing such a good job."
David Murry and Craig Stanton finished second in the Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing Porsche, followed by Johannes van Overbeek and Darren Law in the Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche.
PETIT LE MANS NEXT FOR ALMS
After running six races in eight weeks, the American Le Mans Series will have some time off before Chevy presents Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta Sept. 23-25. The next-to-last race of the season will cover 1,000 miles or 10 hours, whichever comes first, in a race that starts at noon and runs into darkness.