Only one week after Infineon Team Joest and Team ADT Champion Racing were defeated by MG Lola in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) for the first time, the two Audi customer teams managed to take an impressive revenge. On the street course at Trois-Rivières (Canada), Frank Biela/Marco Werner and Johnny Herbert/JJ Lehto provided a superb Audi 1-2 victory repeating last year’s Audi triumph.
Already in qualifying, the two Audi R8 racers set the pace taking the front row of the grid. Marco Werner’s performance was especially impressive, driving his first ever qualifying in the ALMS and with the Audi R8. He qualified on pole position with a margin of more than six tenths of a second. “That was great and a small reward for the overtime I gave the mechanics,” said Werner, who had touched a wall on Friday after just ten minutes of practice. Because of this incident, the Joest Team missed almost the complete Friday practice session.
Regardless, Frank Biela and Marco Werner were able to work out a perfect set-up for the difficult street course. During the early stages of the races, Werner succeeded to pull away constantly from JJ Lehto in Champion’s Audi R8. The prestigious battle among the two Audi teams was decided at the start of the second hour of the race when the Joest squad was able to stay out longer and make the first pit-stop under “yellow”. JJ Lehto came in six laps earlier under “green”, losing a lap to the Joest Audi. “The stop was definetely too early,” explained Lehto, who completed almost two hours on the same set of tyres before climbing out of the cockpit completely exhausted. “I had almost no feeling in my fingers for the last 20 minutes of my stint,” the Finn said.
While Frank Biela was defending the margin with which he had taken over the Joest R8 from Marco Werner apparently easily, Johnny Herbert in the Champion Audi attempted to make the impossible possible in the final stages of the race. Nevertheless the Briton succeeded just shortly before the end of the race to overtake Biela and to unlap himself. “There was simply too much time to make up,” stated Herbert.
With a margin of almost a minute, Frank Biela crossed the finish line as race winner although he had to survive two scares: A collision with a lapped car, slightly damaged the front of his Audi R8, while at the final pit-stop the starter motor of the R8 did not function immediately. “I am very happy,” said Frank Biela. “That was an important victory for us. It may have looked simple from outside, but the race was not so easy, although everything went very well from the very beginning.”
Trois-Rivières (CDN), 3 August, Round 4 of the American Le Mans-Series (ALMS)
1 Biela/Werner (Audi R8) 169 laps in 3h 00m 06.726s
2 Herbert/Lehto (Audi R8) + 55.503s
3 Beretta/Saelens (Panoz) – 5 laps
4 Gavin/Collins (Chevrolet) – 7 laps
5 Fellows/O´Connell (Chevrolet) – 7 laps
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