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  Archive of Audi R8 Race Reports/News/Photos 2001  

Audi R8  2001  -  2002  -  2003  -  2004  -  2005  -  2006

Champion Racing -  ALMS Mosport
  Late-race crash ends Champion bid for victory  

(Mosport Int'l Raceway, 19 August) Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro in a Joest Audi R8 took victory at Mosport after 115 exciting laps, ahead of the Panoz which had won at Portland. The race was decided just 15 minutes before the end when Johnny Herbert went off the track in the Champion Audi R8 and into the tire barrier at the bottom of the very fast downhill Turn Two. Before that, the former Formula One driver had led stages of the race together with his partner Andy Wallace (who handed the R8 over to Herbert in second place), and had closed the gap on race leader Emanuele Pirro to just 2.6 seconds from over 18 seconds in the fifteen minutes prior to his crash.

Herbert, who relieved Wallace at about the one-hour point in the race, was charging after Pirro, who he'd already passed once with a thrilling move at the last corner at the restart after a full-course caution. Herbert was setting his fastest laps of the race just prior to his shunt. Pirro took the lead by a narrow margin after his final pit stop, when the Joest team opted not to change tires at their final stop. The Champion squad had changed just the left-front at their last pit stop, a move that gave Herbert the grip needed to push the race leader hard in the race's closing stages.

Like last year, torrential rain caused a lot of action at Mosport. In the early stages of the race the former Canadian Grand Prix circuit was extremely slippery. On the opening lap Rinaldo Capello and Andy Wallace spun off with their R8 sportscars with one of the Panoz. While Wallace was lucky not to hit anything hard, the repairs to Capello´s Infineon R8 lasted seven laps. The car finally retired shortly after the driver change, when Tom Kristensen came onto the wet part of the track on his slick tyres while passing a slower car, crashing heavily into the barriers.

The colorful Champion Audi sustained right front corner bodywork and suspension damage in Herbert's crash, and Brad Kettler's ace crew has their work cut out for them with just a handful of days before action begins at Mid-Ohio, prior to Saturday's debut ALMS race at the famous midwest circuit.

  Quotes after the Race:

Johnny Herbert: "I needed to get past two back-markers so that I could keep the pressure on Emanuele who was only 2.6 seconds ahead. But we went into Turn 2  three abreast and I got on to the rubber, lost grip, slid on to the grass and hit the tyre wall hard. A great shame, Andy had driven very well and the Audi was running superbly and I felt confident I could have beaten Pirro."

Andy Wallace: "Johnny and I drove as hard as we could in what was an incredibly dramatic race from start to finish. The Champion Audi team should be proud of what was achieved despite what ultimately occurred. We will win an ALMS race, rest assured."
  Monday at Mosport...cleaning up after a hard race Damaged R8 returns to paddock...Now the work begins... Left-front-only at final stop allows Herbert to push hard in closing laps Champion leads at Mosport...  
  Herbert leads Pirro after blowing by the Joest car on the restart Herbert stalks Pirro before restart They don't call him "Wires" for nothing... Wallace charges back through the field after first lap shunt  
  Checking out the motor before qualifying Herbert pits in early practice Engine check in early practice Secret Weapons - 1  
  Wallace at Moss in early practice Kettler and Wallace confer in early practice Herbert at Moss in early practice    
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