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The duel between the two Audi customer teams of Infineon Team Joest and Champion Racing is keeping American Le Mans Series (ALMS) fans on the edge of their seats. Frank Biela and Marco Werner with the Infineon Team Joest Audi R8 hold an eleven-point lead over JJ Lehto in the Team ADT Champion Racing Audi R8 after six of nine races. After Lehto celebrated his second victory of the season together with teammate Johnny Herbert at Road America, the two former Formula 1 drivers hope to continue their fight back at Laguna Seca (California) on 7 September. “If we want to clinch the title we have to win each of the remaining three races,” said JJ Lehto. Johnny Herbert believes that Champion Racing is more than capable of doing this: “The team has learnt a great deal and made huge progress during the last few races. Also the pit stops, during which we weren’t so good in the past, work perfectly now.”
Infineon Team Joest will obviously do everything in their power to ward off the attack. “I hope that the experience we have gathered over the previous years in Laguna will pay,” said team Technical Director Ralf Jüttner. “Because of the large difference in temperatures between the morning and afternoon, it is very easy to go the wrong way on set-up.”
The Joest team has won three times in succession with the Audi R8 at Laguna Seca; Frank Biela mounted the top step of the podium in the previous two years there. However, JJ Lehto also has good memories of the Californian circuit, notoriously renowned for the section of track known as the “Cork Screw”: The Finn celebrated one of his eight overall ALMS victories at Laguna Seca in 1999.
The lighter MG Lolas in the LMP675 class and the two Panoz LMP900 cars could again tip the scales in the duel between both the Audi customer teams. “They were very competitive during the last couple of races, but were unlucky,” mentioned championship leader Frank Biela. “Laguna Seca will be tough.“
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