MONTEREY, Ca. (October 16, 2004) -
perfect finish to a nearly perfect year. Team ADT Champion Racing
celebrated their seventh win of the nine race American Le Mans Series
season tonight as the two-car Audi R8 team finished an astounding 1-2 at
the completion of the four hour endurance race at Mazda Raceway Laguna
A bizarre twist of events during the last forty
minutes reversed the original 1-2 order of the race and gave the win to
Johnny Herbert and Pierre Kaffer, drivers of the No. 2 Audi R8 over the
"sister car" driven by JJ Lehto and Marco Werner who led most of the
A caution late in the race brought out by rain
and a car going off into the gravel, caused much confusion between the
officials and the competitors. Werner who was driving the No. 38 Audi R8
was in the pits when the yellow flagged dropped which immediately closed
the pits. Werner's crew continued the pit-stop service on the car while
the rest of the field lapped him. Since Kaffer was still on the track
when the caution occurred, Kaffer passed Werner on the track thus
earning the lead. Werner and Lehto would finish second, 56 seconds
behind the No. 2 car, something no one could predict given the initial
start of the race.
At the start of the race when the green flag
dropped, Lehto led the Audi duo into Turn 2 behind the pole sitter and
while he managed to come out clean, Herbert was not so lucky as the No.
20 Dyson car tagged Herbert in the left rear causing his LMP1 Prototype
to spin off course. Herbert was forced to join the pack in last place.
While Herbert was climbing his way through the
field, Lehto was dicing it up with Nicolas Minassian in the Reynard
Zytek car. Lehto passed Minassian just eleven laps into the race only to
have Minassian pass him in the next corner. It would be a short
twenty-six minutes later when Lehto would ultimately overtake Minassian.
Lehto along with teammate Marco Werner would continue their charge until
the last forty minutes when confusion occurred and Werner found himself
in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Herbert and Kaffer who started last found
themselves in first place after four hours racing in heat, sun and then
heavy rain. It was a "bizarre" day.
JJ Lehto (Finland): "The finish couldn't be
better for the team but unfortunately for me and Marco, it's
disappointing. It just was one of those technicalities at the end, you
know, what happened with the pace car. It was very difficult to accept.
We had a great race otherwise. I really enjoyed the start of the race
with Nic Minassian. He made it very exciting for me. I can't wait to see
the tape on this race!"
Marco Werner (Germany): "I really don't know
what happened. I was always in the lead and behind the pace car in the
end too. I don't know how Pierre overtook me. But still, it's a double
win for the team. We'll just forget the first and the last race of this
season. We are the Champions this year and in the end, that's what is
Johnny Herbert (England): "At the first corner,
I got a run on JJ but he legitimately defended his position. Leitzinger
went around the outside but then Dyson tapped me in to a spin. There was
no damage and I resumed at the back of the field. I recovered to a
rostrum position - the car and Michelin tires were perfect. The first of
the two safety car periods in the closing 40 minutes brought Pierre to
within eight seconds of Marco [Werner] but then 'Lady Luck' smiled on
us. Pierre was going to pit on exactly the same lap as Marco but the pit
lane had just closed for the second full course yellow. Marco made it
in, Pierre didn't, and that's what gave us the win. That's the way it
Pierre Kaffer (Germany): "That was an
unbelievable race - the track was so slippery for the last 30 minutes.
The Champion Audi team made a great call to give me wet tires at the
perfect moment which won us the race. It's a fantastic way to end my
first sportscar season. To win the opening and closing ALMS races plus
my success in the LMES - amazing."
Brad Kettler (Technical Director): "I'm
delighted Champion Racing had a 1-2 race result today. It was an
extremely tough and interesting race. It finished under a little bit of
controversy. There was a little mishap with the way the pace car was
dispatched into the field. It gave the No. 2 car the advantage over the
No. 38 car. It was a hard fought race as both cars were very, very
quick. Nobody could have foreseen the strange misfortune that occurred
at the end of the race but ultimately, it was another 1-2 finish for
Audi and that's what is important."
DRIVERS TEAM TIME/DIFFERENCE
1) J. Herbert/P. Kaffer ADT Champion Racing
2) J. Lehto/M. Werner ADT Champion Racing
3) J. Weaver/B. Leitzinger Dyson Racing 1 lap
4) R. Fellows/J. O'Connell Corvette Racing 9
5) O. Gavin/O. Beretta Corvette Racing 0.674
Margin of victory: 56.832
Time of Race: 4:00:51.126
Average race speed: 94.221