Road Atlanta: Race report

Lehto, Herbert give Champion Racing first American Le Mans Series win. BRASELTON, Ga. (June 29, 2003) -- A dominating performance by drivers JJ Lehto and Johnny Herbert gave ADT Champion Racing its first-ever win in American Le Mans Series ...

Lehto, Herbert give Champion Racing first American Le Mans Series win.

BRASELTON, Ga. (June 29, 2003) -- A dominating performance by drivers JJ Lehto and Johnny Herbert gave ADT Champion Racing its first-ever win in American Le Mans Series competition in Sunday's Chevy Grand Prix of Atlanta at Road Atlanta.

Lehto, who started the Pompano Beach, Fla., team's Audi R8, took the lead with a frontstretch move around James Weaver's Dyson Racing Lola-MG on lap six. The car then led all but one of the 77 remaining laps in the two hour, 45-minute sports car race on the 2.54-mile, 12-turn circuit.

"The car was perfect," said Lehto, of Finland, who was co-driving with fellow former Formula One driver Herbert for the first time. "We knew before the race that the car would be good in the race, and the only problem we had was in traffic."

Herbert, a three-time winner in his F1 career, had finished second several times with the Champion team the past two years. "The team has worked so hard and Dave Maraj (team owner) has put so much into the team that this win is really gratifying," he said.

Frank Biela and Marco Werner finished second in another Audi R8, 30.407 seconds behind, while the Lola-MG of Jon Field and Duncan Dayton finished third, also winning the LMP 675 class for smaller Prototypes. Weaver and co-driver Butch Leitzinger finished fourth overall and second in the LMP 675 class, 6.165 seconds behind the Field/Dayton car, with Didier Theys and Eric van de Poele fifth overall in a Dallara-MG.

"People forgot about us," said Dayton, who drove the middle stint of the race in the Lola-MG while Field drove at the beginning and end. "We worked hard to make the car right and we didn't get much practice. It just came on in the race and worked great."

Kelly Collins and Oliver Gavin drove a Chevrolet Corvette C5-R to victory in the GTS class, beating the Ferrari 550 Maranello of Tomas Enge and Peter Kox by 11.830 seconds. The Corvette of Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell finished third in the class.

"We've had a fast car this year, at Sebring and Le Mans, but we haven't had the results to show for it," said Gavin, who joined Collins as a fulltime co-driver this year for the factory Corvette team. "We had to push hard today and the results came."

Danica Patrick of Roscoe, Ill., making her debut in the ALMS, finished fourth in the GTS class with co-driver Jerome Policand in a Ferrari.

The Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RS of Jorg Bergmeister and Timo Bernhard won the GT class, beating teammates Sascha Maassen and Lucas Luhr by 6.786 seconds. Kevin Buckler and Cort Wagner finished third in the GT class in another Porsche.

"We had a lot of problems and bad luck last year," said Bergmeister. "We hope that is behind us now."

The next ALMS race will be July 27 at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.

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Series ALMS
Drivers Johnny Herbert , Tomas Enge , Frank Biela , Butch Leitzinger , James Weaver , Didier Theys , Ron Fellows , Johnny O'Connell , Eric van de Poele , Jon Field , Sascha Maassen , Kelly Collins , Lucas Luhr , Kevin Buckler , Oliver Gavin , Jörg Bergmeister , Peter Kox , Timo Bernhard , Marco Werner , Jérome Policand , Alex Job , Dave Maraj , Danica Patrick , JJ Lehto , Cort Wagner
Teams Alex Job Racing