Sebring: Champion Racing race report

Team ADT Champion Racing recorded second place in the 51st 12 Hours of Sebring sportscar endurance race today (SAT). Having finished third in 2001 and second last year, it looked for much of this year's annual race as though the Florida-based...

Team ADT Champion Racing recorded second place in the 51st 12 Hours of Sebring sportscar endurance race today (SAT). Having finished third in 2001 and second last year, it looked for much of this year's annual race as though the Florida-based team would savor success on "home soil".

Having swept into the lead on lap five, the Emanuele Pirro/JJ Lehto/Stefan Johansson ADT Champion Audi R8 only briefly lost the lead to the similar Infineon Team Joest R8 of Frank Biela/Marco Werner/Philipp Peter during the ensuing 10 hours.

But the Pompano Beach-based team were dealt two cruel blows. Firstly, with less than three hours to run, Lehto lost a 32-second lead advantage in the ADT Security Systems sponsored 2002-spec Audi R8 due to a full course yellow caution period.

Then, with just 90 minutes remaining on the clock in the annual sportscar race and with a vital 10-seconds advantage over the Joest Audi, the unfortunate Pirro suddenly sustained agonising cramp pains necessitating an earlier than schedule pit-stop.

Johansson resumed and fought hard to the checker but was unable to reduce the deficit around the physically demanding, bumpy 3.7-mile roadcourse. For the third consecutive year, the Champion team stepped on to the podium -- but cruelly not the very top step.

Emanuele Pirro: "The seat was not located properly during my second stint and it caused me back pain but JJ helped me adjust it during the next stop and after that it was fine. During my last time behind the wheel, I had to stop a little early as I suddenly got sever cramp in the calves of both legs."

JJ Lehto: "I had a lead of 34-seconds before the caution period but that lost all of our advantage over the Joest Audi. We continued to battle hard and really deserved the victory but it did not come. That's motor racing -- sometimes you're lucky, sometimes not -- I hope it's our turn at Le Mans."

Stefan Johansson: "Champion provided all three drivers with a stunning racecar today and one capable of winning. We led the majority of the race and it would have been a great reward for the guys to win their first ALMS race in Florida but we had horrible luck. I'm terribly disappointed."

Brad Kettler, Technical Director: "We had planned to 'triple-stint' JJ but the full course yellow blew that out. When we brought him in we had to change the tyres after running at slow speed -- he couldn't stay on them. Then, of course, we had not reckoned on Emanuele's problem. But I'm proud of the team -- we had a fantastic car and engine -- our Michelin tyres were superb - we're going to be strong this year."

-cr-

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Stefan Johansson , Frank Biela , Marco Werner , Philipp Peter , Emanuele Pirro , JJ Lehto