Smyrna, GA – The Audi American Le Mans teams of Infineon Team Joest and Team ADT Champion Racing are heading west this weekend to compete in the Infineon Grand Prix of Sonoma presented by Napa Valley Marriott Hotel & Spa and Foster’s Lager. Infineon Raceway is a 2.53 mile road racing circuit set in the beautiful hills of Sonoma, California. Team ADT Champion Racing is looking to defend its maiden victory from last month’s win at Road Atlanta. The battle between the two Audi teams will be as hot as the 90 degree temperatures expected this weekend.
The Infineon Raceway is regarded as one of the most challenging tracks in the ALMS. “There is not a single straight and overtaking is extremely difficult,” explained Ralf Jüttner, Infineon Team Joest Technical Director. Infineon Team Joest has already won twice with the Audi R8 there, however, last year a Panoz triumphed. With Champion’s win three weeks ago at Road Atlanta, Team Joest is now more determined than ever to climb back atop the rostrum. That will prove challenging for driver Marco Werner as this will be new territory for him.
For Team ADT Champion Racing their goal is clear: to continue their winning streak which would put them in the lead for the championship. “It would be fabulous if we left California as clear championship leaders”, said JJ Lehto. “But it will be a hard race. Team Joest will be highly motivated after our victory in Road Atlanta.”
The two-hour, 45-minute race will start at noon (PDT) on Sunday, July 27, and will be broadcast live by the American Le Mans Series Radio Web online at www.americanlemans.com. NBC Sports will have live television coverage in North America beginning at 4 p.m. (EDT).
TEAM ADT CHAMPION RACING
Johnny Herbert: “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: “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.”
INFINEON TEAM JOEST
Frank Biela: “The Infineon Raceway is very fast and the run-off areas are quite small. At the Infineon Raceway, we have already experienced just about everything from incredible heat to monsoon type rain last year. The circuit is very strenuous in the dry, because there is no straight and because of its roller coaster nature. You can’t afford to lose concentration for a second and you need a well handling car.”
Marco Werner: “For me it is once again a question of ‘learning at a high level’, as I am not familiar with Infineon Raceway. However, generally I don’t have a problem learning new circuits quickly. Our target is clear. We want to mount the top step of the rostrum again. My main problem remains the lack of experience in traffic. The risk is very high, particularly during the opening laps when the slower GT cars are still fighting heavily among themselves. I hope that it pays off in the long term being a little more cautious and not risking an accident. Normally, at some stage or other, there is a full course yellow and the field closes up again. That this was not the case in Road Atlanta was very unusual.”
Ralf Jüttner (Technical Director): “We want to strike revenge twice at the Infineon Raceway: Panoz won there last year and Champion won the last race at Road Atlanta. We want to win this time. It certainly won’t be easy. Not only are Champion tough opponents, but also the MG Lola will probably be very strong again. As there is not a single straight, a well-balanced car is important at the Infineon Raceway . Overtaking is extremely difficult and with 36 cars in the field it will be a brutal race and for Marco who is not familiar with Infineon Raceway.