Seven days after
being forced off the track when dicing for the lead in the closing
stages at Mosport, “lady luck” for once smiled on the Florida-based
outfit when its rivals encountered problems at Elkhart Lake enabling
Dave Maraj’s squad to chalk up a second ALMS win.
Herbert, who had
qualified the ADT Champion Audi R8 third fastest the previous day,
started the 165-minute race behind the pole-sitting Frank Biela/Marco
Werner (Joest Audi) and James Weaver/Butch Leitzinger (Lola MG) in the
Werner, with Herbert third and Olivier Beretta/David Saelens (Panoz) a
close fourth from the green light. But after 13mins, Leitzinger
tagged a backmarker under braking and although he remained in the
lead, the lost momentum allowed Werner to snatch the lead.
second place from Leitzinger on the next lap while moments later
Leitzinger’s race came to an end when his Lola and Saelens’s Panoz
touched under braking for Turn 5 - an identical clash to Leitzinger’s
earlier contact at the same turn.
With 30mins run,
Werner led Herbert by less than a second with Saelens third - a
further 8-secs adrift - and Gunnar Jeannette/Ben Leuenberger (Panoz)
fourth almost a minute back. Five minutes later, third-placed Saelens
went off in to the gravel trap and although he got back in to the
race, he was given a one-minute penalty for the earlier contact with
Leitzinger and dropped to seventh.
Werner headed for
the pits for a scheduled pit-stop with a 2.643-secs lead over Herbert,
who also pitted on the same 28th lap after 55mins, but it
was Johnny, after a fuel-only stop, who left the pits first when the
Joest Audi failed to fire-up due to a malfunctioning starter motor.
completed the first hour with a near 2-lap lead over Chris Dyson/Andy
Wallace (Lola MG) - who had started from the back of the grid - and
then used a full course caution period on 68mins to hand over to
Lehto. The ADT Champion Audi was given a full service with fuel and
tires as Biela resumed, seven laps down in 30th overall and
sixth in LMP900 class.
With an hour to run,
Lehto was pacing himself well at the front of the field and held a
near one-lap lead over the Beretta/Saelens (Panoz) with the
Dyson/Wallace (Lola MG) third five-seconds back.
Lehto made a stop
for fuel with 27mins to go, comfortably ahead of the Dyson/Wallace
(Lola MG) and duly cruised unthreatened to the checker as Biela
recovered to seventh overall (third in class). The Herbert/Lehto Audi
completed 79-laps, over 316-miles, in the sixth round of the series.
“I was happy with
the start and I just tried to keep up with Marco [Werner] without
using too much fuel which I managed to do easily in the early stages.
We knew that it would be a tight race on fuel so we ran on a ‘lean’
fuel setting from the start in case there were no cautions. We [Marco
Werner] came in to the pits together but they had starter problems
which handed the race to us. Our car was superb and never missed a
“When I took over
from Johnny it was difficult to keep my concentration as there was
nothing to race. I just tried to keep out of trouble and cruise home
to the finish. It’s not my greatest win because of that fact but it
was nevertheless vital. We really needed a maximum points score today
to keep our championship hopes alive with just three races remaining.
The car and the team are getting better with each race - that’s the
way it must be in this series.”
Herbert/Lehto (ADT Champion Audi R8), 79 laps (2hrs 46mins 21.273secs)
Dyson/Wallace (Lola-MG), -1 Lap
Beretta/Saelens (Panoz), -19.480secs
Magnussen/Brabham (Ferrari), -4 Laps
Fellows/O'Connell (Corvette), -0.531
Kox/Enge (Ferrari), -5 Laps
2003 America Le Mans Series – Driver’s Standings (after 6 races)
Frank Biela/Marco Werner, 115
JJ Lehto, 104
Johnny Herbert, 102
2003 America Le
Mans Series – Teams’ Standings (after 6 races)
1 Infineon Team Joest, 115
Team ADT Champion Racing, 104
JML Team Panoz, 79