BRASELTON, Ga. (September 17, 2001) -- With three driving championships yet to be determined, as well as several manufacturer and team titles, the American Le Mans Series will conclude its 2001 season as Audi presents Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta...
BRASELTON, Ga. (September 17, 2001) -- With three driving championships yet to be determined, as well as several manufacturer and team titles, the American Le Mans Series will conclude its 2001 season as Audi presents Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on Saturday, Oct. 6.
The 10-hour sports car endurance race, which will be run for the fourth time, has quickly become one of the biggest sporting events of the Southeastern United States, as well as one of the crown jewels of the American Le Mans Series. The 2001 season will mark the first time that the event has been the final race of the ALMS championship.
In the four classes of cars that compete in the series, the only driving championship that has been determined is in the LMP 675 class for lightweight Prototypes. Belgian Didier de Radigues, who drives a Reynard 01Q-Judd for Dick Barbour Racing, has already clinched what will be his first ALMS title.
The most wide-open race is in the GT class, where seven drivers are still in mathematical contention for the championship. They include current leader Jorg Muller, who drives for BMW Motorsport and has 165 points. His driving partner, JJ Lehto, is second with 164. Also still in contention are Alex Job Racing/McKenna Porsche drivers Sascha Maassen (153) and Lucas Luhr (152), as well as BMW Team PTG driver Boris Said (139) and BMW Motorsport drivers Fredrik Ekblom and Dirk Muller (137 each). Dirk Muller won the 2000 ALMS GT title, while the other six are seeking what would be their first series championship.
The four drivers for Audi Sport North America are in a tight race for the championship of the Prototype 900 class, which is for the fastest and most exotic sports cars in the world. Heading into Audi presents Petit Le Mans, the leader is Italian Emanuele Pirro, who has 170 points and a four-point margin over driving partner Frank Biela. Rinaldo Capello, who led the series points until the most recent race, is third with 162, while his driving partner, Tom Kristensen, is fourth with 161. Many different scenarios are possible that could make any of the four a first-time ALMS champion.
The same holds true in the GTS class, where four drivers who have never won an ALMS title have a mathematical shot at the championship. They include current leader Ron Fellows, who drives for Corvette Racing and has 171 points, one ahead of driving partner Johnny O'Connell. Konrad Team Saleen teammates Terry Borcheller and Franz Konrad occupy the next two spots with 160 and 158, respectively.
In the LMP 900 class, Audi has clinched the Manufacturer's Championship for the second straight year, as well as the engine championship. Audi Sport North America has clinched its second straight team championship, and Michelin its second tire championship in the two years it has been determined.
No other titles have been clinched in the LMP 675 class, where Lola holds a six-point edge over Reynard for the chassis manufacturer title, and Nissan leads Judd by six for the engine title. Rooch-KnightHawk Racing holds a six-point edge over Dick Barbour Racing for the team championship and Avon leads Goodyear by 10 for the tire title.
Saleen's win in the most recent ALMS race at Monterey, Calif., has tightened the GTS class standings in the manufacturer, tire and team championships. Corvette leads Saleen 172-158 in the Manufacturer's race, and Corvette Racing leads Konrad Team Saleen by a similar margin in the team standings. Goodyear holds a commanding 180-154 lead over Dunlop in the tire standings.
In the GT class, BMW has accumulated 174 points to lead the Manufacturer's standings over Porsche, which has 156. Michelin has clinched the tire championship, while BMW Motorsport leads Alex Job Racing 168-156 in the team standings.
The American Le Mans Series will honors its 2001 champions in a ceremony at the Chateau Elan in Braselton, Ga., on Sunday night, October 7, the day after Audi presents Petit Le Mans.