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Two weeks after their victory at Trois-Rivières, Audi drivers Frank Biela and Marco Werner also won the second Canadian round of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS). With their hard earned victory at Mosport, the two Germans extened their lead in the ALMS overall classification to 18 points.
In front of an impressive crowd, the fifth round of the 2003 ALMS was one of the season’s most exciting races. In qualifying, the lighter LMP675 prototypes were able to exploit, as expected, their weight advantage. Behind two MG Lolas, Johnny Herbert/JJ Lehto and Frank Biela/Marco Werner had to be content with third and fourth positions on the grid in their Audi R8 racers, entered by Audi customer teams ADT Champion Racing and Infineon Team Joest. However, only a great effort from the Joest mechanics enabled Frank Biela to take part in the qualifying session. After an accident in the last practice session just before qualifying, which badly damaged the front section, the Joest crew repaired the R8 within only 45 minutes.
In the race, Infineon Team Joest’s pit-crew also played a decisive role. After one of the two MG Lolas had to start from pit-lane, because of an accident during the warm-up session, and the Dyson team’s second car dropped back due to technical problems after leading the race at the beginning, a fierce battle for victory raged between the two Audi customer teams. Perfectly timed and fast pit-stops allowed the Joest Team’s Audi R8 to come out in front of the Champion Audi every time.
In the final and decisive hour of the race, leader Marco Werner came under massive pressure from Johnny Herbert. 30 minutes from the end, a mere 0.343 seconds seperated the two leading Audi R8 racers, they even touched once. The race was decided, when Johnny Herbert collided with a slower GT car 19 minutes from the end in the sequence of corners before start and finish. Touching a kerb, he damaged the right front suspension of the Audi R8. Due to the repairs, the Champion Team lost 14 laps, but still finished fourth in the LMP900 class.
“This was team-work par excellence,” enthused Ralf Jüttner, Technical Director of Infineon Team Joest. “The crew has won this race, everything went perfect: The pit-stops were top and our strategy absolutely right.” While Frank Biela and Marco Werner celebrated their third joint overall victory in the ALMS, Johnny Herbert could not hide his disappointment. “I can’t believe the driving standards of some of these guys. I was comfortable bringing down the gap to Marco (Werner), the car was really good, but I got stuck in traffic each. The Porsche braked early and wandered across the track, I couldn’t get out of his way.”
Frank Biela and Marco Werner were a bit more cautios in traffic and got the merits. “These were important points, now we can go into the next races with a little bit less pressure,” said Biela. “I am really happy, because this race was not easy at all,” added Marco Werner. “At Road Atlanta I lost a lot of time in traffic, this time I was much better and brought the victory home.”
1 Biela/Werner (Audi R8) 116 laps in 2hrs 45m 44.079s
2 Dyson/Wallace (MG Lola) – 2 laps
3 Jeannette/Maxwell (Panoz) – 2 laps
4 Fellows/O´Connell (Chevrolet) – 4 laps
5 Kox/Enge (Ferrari) – 4 laps