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  Archive of Audi R8 Race Reports/News/Photos 2002  

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

  ALMS Washington, D.C.  

Qualifying and the Race News and Photos


WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 21, 2002)

"It was just not meant to be", said Champion Racing owner Dave Maraj in describing the fraught weekend that saw the ADT/Champion Audi R8 team finish fifth in the inaugural American Le Mans Series Cadillac Grand Prix of Washington, D.C., which was won by the Panoz of Jan Magnussen and David Brabham.

The debut ALMS weekend in the Nation's Capital had gotten off to a promising start for Champion, with Johnny Herbert setting the fastest time during Friday's first practice for Sunday's two-hour, 45-minute sports car endurance race. In Saturday's 20-minute qualifying session, Herbert, who won the Sebring 12 Hours and came second at Le Mans in a 2002-spec factory Audi R8, was near the the top of the time sheets early on, but ultimately was able to set just the fourth best time in Champion's 2001-spec R8.

In the closing minutes of qualifying, however, Herbert's final attempt at bettering his time ended in the Turn One tire barriers, doing mostly cosmetic damage to the front of the colorful Audi, but crucially flat-spotting his front tires. Series rules require all cars to start the race on the same set of tires used for qualifying, but as result of the damaged front tires the team took the decision to start the race with fresh rubber, which by rule forced the #38 ADT/Michelin-sponsored entry to start from the 33rd and last starting position for the race.

Race day brought brutally hot and humid conditions, with temperatures above 100 degrees F on the 1.661-mile temporary circuit, constructed on the site of a former parking lot outside Washington's RFK Stadium. As the parade and pace laps got underway, starter Stefan Johansson pitted immediately after the first of three pre-green flag laps and the Champion crew topped off the R8 with fuel. Because he had pitted prior to the start, Johansson then had to wait at Pit Out, and start once the field had passed by after taking the green flag. The team's strategy, given a pre-destined last-place start, was to start the race with effectively three laps' more fuel onboard than the rest of the field, which had the race played out differently could have been a decisive advantage.

Johansson put on a memorable charge in the race's opening laps, making his way past 29 slower cars to sit in fourth place overall by one-third distance, despite two spins, the second from contact by the #2 Joest Audi of Rinaldo Capello, which made contact with Johansson's car while trying to put him a lap down, spinning both cars.

A full-course caution period near the end of the first hour allowed Johansson to pit for fuel, four fresh Michelins and the handover to Johnny Herbert. During Herbert's opening stint however, the ADT/Champion R8 again experienced a recurring turbo-boost-related problem, first experienced at Mid-Ohio, that put the Audi FSI Turbo motor well down on power and prevented Herbert from pushing as hard as necessary to catch the race leaders.

Iron-man Johnny, who drove nearly eleven hours of this year's Le Mans 24 Hours in a factory Audi, pushed on through the punishing heat, driving the last two stints of the race. Despite his heroic efforts, the lack of power from the twin-turbo V8 caused Herbert to lose fourth place near the end, the ADT/Champion team being forced to settle for fifth place on the day.

Said Herbert after the race, "It turned into a disappointing weekend after I flat-spotted the tyres in qualifying yesterday. That meant we needed to use a new set of tyres and start the race from the back. Stefan did a good job fighting to the front but after I took over I lost power due to a technical problem and surrendered fourth place - I just wanted to reach the finish.

Despite the team's fifth-place finish, Champion Racing won the IMSA Cup for Privateers, as highest-finishing privateer. Champion leads the LMP-900 IMSA Cup standings by 27 points over Intersport Racing's Lola/Judd. Johnny Herbert is now tied for fourth in LMP-900 Drivers points with Emanuele Pirro, and Champion Racing is now third in LMP-900 Teams standinngs behind Joest Audi and Panoz.

The next race for the American Le Mans Series will be Le Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres on August 3 in Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, Canada.

  Race Results from Washington, D.C.:

1. Jan Magnussen, David Brabham; Panoz LMP-1 (LMP 900), 140 laps

2. Rinaldo Capello, Tom Kristensen; Audi R8 (LMP 900), 140

3. Frank Biela, Emanuele Pirro; Audi R8 (LMP 900), 140

4. Christophe Tinseau, Max Angelelli; Cadillac Northstar LMP-02 (LMP 900), 139

5. Johnny Herbert, Stefan Johansson; Audi R8 (LMP 900), 138

LMP-900 Drivers' Points Standings after Washington, D.C.:

1 - Tom Kristensen, 114

2 - Rinaldo Capello, 111

3 - Frank Biela, 101

4 - Johnny Herbert, 100

      Emanuele Pirro, 100

LMP-900 Teams Points after Washington, D.C.:

1 - Audi Sport North America, 113

2 - Panoz Motor Sports, 100

3 - Champion Racing, 93
Stefan Johansson climbs aboard for final pre-qualifying practice
Johnny Herbert at the conclusion of final pre-qualifying practice
The fans try to stay cool as Herbert works on a hot lap during Qualifying
The mechanics verify no damage to the R8's running gear from Herbert's meeting with the tire barrier
Red paint from the tire barriers streaks the battered R8 nose, the only significant damage from Herbert's shunt
Johansson grids in Champion's fourth qualifying spot, but as the field pulls away for the formation lap he must wait and join at the back
Johansson takes his place at the tail end of the field on the formation lap
Having pitted to top off fuel, Johansson waits at Pit Out as the race begins
Johansson is allowed to proceed once the final car has taken the green flag
Johansson begins lap two, working his way past the slower GT class cars in pursuit of the leaders
Within five laps, Stefan has made his way through nearly the entire field and takes off after the lead pack
Thousands of race fans got their first look at the ALMS in the Nation's Capital
Working slower traffic takes some help from the Blue Flaggers (blue flag tells driver a faster car is trying to get by
Capello tries to put Johansson a lap down, and a Cadillac (at left) has met the tire barriers. RFK Stadium in the background
Kiwi prepares to potentially change a failing (but red-hot) turbocharger...
The engineers (and Stefan Johansson, at left) watch as the down-on-power R8 loses track position
Herbert stops on the mark for his final pit service of the race
Michelin engineer Perry Hyder verifies the tires are good for a second stint...fuel only this stop
Eldo finishes fueling, and Johnny is ready for the race to the finish. Everything the team does is carefully noted by the Spies...
Johnny Herbert prepares for the raceday warmup
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