Sears Point: Champion Racing preview

Team ADT Champion Racing is bracing itself for arguably the most difficult race in its short history. Having finished second (Sebring, ALMS Rd1) and third (24 Hours of Le Mans), its Champion Audi R8 swept to a maiden American Le Mans Series...

Team ADT Champion Racing is bracing itself for arguably the most difficult race in its short history. Having finished second (Sebring, ALMS Rd1) and third (24 Hours of Le Mans), its Champion Audi R8 swept to a maiden American Le Mans Series victory in round 2 at Road Atlanta last month.

The Pompano Beach, FL-based team are under no illusions that its rivals will be doubly determined to bring Dave Maraj's American "privateer" Audi team back down to earth in the Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma after its flying start to the 2003 campaign.

Despite finishing second at Sebring, the 2002-spec Champion Audi led 290 of the race's 367-laps (79% of the race distance). In Atlanta, the ratio was higher - 122 of 128-laps (95%). And with its Atlanta race victors JJ Lehto and Johnny Herbert placed joint first and fourth respectively in the Driver's Championship and Team ADT Champion Racing tied for first in the Teams' and IMSA Cup standings, Audi's "customer" team is focused on maintaining its momentum.

Herbert made his ALMS debut at the Infineon Raceway (Sears Point) in 2001 - his second race for Champion Racing - finishing fourth (with Andy Wallace) and second last year from pole-position (with Tom Kristensen). Lehto, meanwhile, won outright at Sears in 1999, finished third in 2000 and first in GT the following year.

Johnny Herbert (39). Born: Brentwood, Essex, UK. Lives: Monte Carlo:
ALMS stats: 18 starts, 2 wins, 12 top-3s, 16 top-5s, 18 top-10s.

"I'm not expecting Sears to be a breeze -- we all need to work especially hard to continue our good run. I like Sears and in the past couple of years have been fortunate to post good results but with JJ, feel I have an excellent opportunity of scoring my maiden Sears win. In the one race that I've had with JJ, I already feel very comfortable and have a positive feeling for the remainder of the ALMS season."

JJ Lehto (37). Born: Espoo, Finland. Lives: Monte Carlo:
ALMS stats: 32 starts, 11 wins (7 overall, 4 GT class), 26 top-3s, 30 top-5s, 32 top-10s.

"This race will be very tough. After our Atlanta win, the Joest Audi team especially will be very determined to beat us and so we must be totally focused. The entire team must be sharp - we must show no mercy. I scored an LMP900 victory at Sears in 1999 and will be pushing hard for another -- we must consistently score big points for the championship. Ideally it would be good to leave Sears the clear series leader."

Brad Kettler , Champion Racing's Technical Director:

"Team ADT Champion Racing is looking forward to Sears. We learned a great deal last year when Tom [Kristensen] drove with us. Last year's set-up was good for changing track conditions, which is always good for Sears Point. The team is working harder than ever, we know that Joest will be at their best as always. Johnny, JJ and the team are all focused and ready."

-cr-

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Johnny Herbert , Tom Kristensen , Dave Maraj , JJ Lehto