PORTLAND, OR. (July 25, 2004) -
JJ Lehto and Marco Werner, drivers for Team ADT Champion Racing, set
an American Le Mans Series record Sunday with their fourth
consecutive overall race win as they took a hard-fought victory in
the Grand Prix of Portland at Portland International Raceway.
Their ADT Champion Racing Audi R8 spun twice
after contact with other cars and was penalized once for contact
during the two-hour, 45-minute sports car race event on the
1.944-mile track, all during Lehto's stint behind the wheel.
However, the two Lola cars from Dyson Racing that had battled the
Audi through the entire race each experienced problems in the last
hour of the event and fell from contention. There were eight lead
changes among the three cars and the Champion team earned Michelin
Tires its 50th overall race win in ALMS history.
"I am never going to forget this race,"
said Lehto. "It was just one of those races. Lots of hits and spins,
this is like nothing I've ever experienced before. It was a lot of
hard work. I think it's the first time in my whole racing experience
that so much has happened in one race."
"(Watching) was very difficult," said
Werner, who drove the last 50 minutes. "I nearly had a heart attack.
My heart rate was probably higher than (Lehto's). It was very fun
watching, it was the best race I've ever seen."
For much of the first hour of the race,
Lehto battled back-and-forth with Chris Dyson, driving the Lola that
co-driver Andy Wallace had qualified on the pole. Dyson led 54 laps,
many of them with Lehto behind him trying to pass. The car
ultimately finished 12 laps down after losing time in the pits with
a mechanical problem.
Lehto and Werner became the first drivers
in ALMS history to score four consecutive overall wins. The race
marked the return of professional sports car racing to Portland
International Raceway for the first time since 2001.
The American Le Mans Series next visits
Mosport International Raceway Aug. 6-8 for the Grand Prix of
JJ Lehto (Finland): "There were some fair
things and some very unfair things that went on today. It was an
ongoing fight all the way to the end. I definitely had to push the
car all the time to the limit. It wasn't a very nice race for the
bodywork of the Audi R8 but this is one of those races that you will
remember for a long time. It was the best ALMS race I have ever
Marco Werner (Germany): "JJ did a fabulous
job today. It was unbelievable what he did in the beginning. It was
one of the best races I have ever watched. It wasn't the best day
for our Audi R8 certainly not a lucky day. But to come away with a
win today and to make it four victories in a row, which is a record
for ADT Champion Racing, that's fine for us."
Brad Kettler (Technical Director): "This
was a hell of a fight from the drop of the green flag to the
checkered flag. We kept getting knocked back and we came back up.
Fortunately the car had a lot of speed and it held together even
though it got hit just about everywhere. The ruggedness and robust
nature of the Audi R8 came through today."
DRIVERS TEAM TIME/DIFFERENCE
1) J. Lehto/M. Werner ADT
2) J. Weaver/B. Leitzinger Dyson Racing 1:08.446
3) R. Fellows/J. O'Connell Corvette Racing 6 laps
4) O. Gavin/O. Beretta Corvette Racing 8 laps
5) C.Field/R.Liddell/J. Field Intersport Racing 12 laps
Margin of victory: 1:08.1446
Time of Race: 2:45:59.176
Average race speed: 99.082
Fastest Race Lap: JJ Lehto