SONOMA, CA. (July 17, 2005) - The bad luck streak is over for Emanuele Pirro and Frank Biela, co-drivers of the No. 2 Audi R8, as the duo earned their first checkered flag of the 2005 American Le Mans Series today at the Infineon Technologies Grand Prix of Sonoma. The No. 2 Audi was the fastest car for most of the weekend and proved they have still have the "winning mojo". Defending race Champions JJ Lehto and Marco Werner led most of the race but a racing incident with Werner forced the No. 1 Audi from first to third position in the last fifteen minutes of the race.
Graham Taylor, Race Engineer for the No. 2 Audi R8, was quite happy with today's podium finish. "I am so pleased for our team. We started this year with some catching up to do. The team is new, the drivers have been away from the ALMS for a couple of years, but we've been making progress each race, which is great. Today was a battle for us and even without Werner's incident, I still think we had the pace and the strategy to win."
Louis Milone, Crew Chief for the No. 2 Audi R8 agreed. "The team is fully gelled, all the pieces have come together, the monkey is off our backs and the points battle is tightened up. We're making a Champion run after all."
Lehto had an incredible start and immediately jumped from second to first before he even got to Turn 2. He created a huge gap for himself and Werner but unfortunately, with fifteen minutes left in the race, a racing incident between Werner and a Corvette GT2 car as Werner was exiting the pits cost the team the race.
"We were in our final pit stop putting fuel into the car so Marco could finish the race," said Brad Kettler, Technical Director and Crew Chief for the No. 1 Audi. "We were pretty confident we had the win until Marco made hard contact with a Corvette coming out of the pits. He broke the upper wishbone on the right side, we replaced it, and he went back out but it cost us the race."
Round six of the American Le Mans Series starts two weeks from today at Portland International Raceway. The Portland Grand Prix will commence Saturday, July 30th at 5:00 p.m. Practice will start Thursday and qualifying is scheduled for Friday. Television coverage will be provided by SPEED Channel.
TEAM ADT CHAMPION RACING AUDI R8 #1
JJ Lehto (Fin). Age: 39. Born: Espoo, Finland. Lives: Monte Carlo, Monaco:
"Of course today was disappointing for us. We were going strong and the car was good but unfortunately things like that happen. This hurts us in the fight for the Championship. We were here to collect the maximum points and to get a little more lead but it went the other way, which is not good. The competition is now very close, especially at this time of the year. We now have on-going pressure for us and we will need to push hard for the rest of the season."
Marco Werner (D). Age: 38. Born: Dortmund, Germany. Lives: Ermatingen, Switzerland:
"I'm really disappointed for my team. Everybody did a great job, the car was running well, we were in a good position, but then I came out of the pits and got hit. I had to stay out for two laps because the pits were closed which was really dangerous and cost us more time. It was important for us to fix the car and get back out there for the points which we did but I am still very disappointed."
TEAM ADT CHAMPION RACING AUDI R8 #2
Frank Biela (D). Age: 40. Born: Neuss, Germany. Lives: Monte Carlo, Monaco:
"This was a good weekend for us. In other races we have showed our potential and we knew we could do a good job but we just never got it all together, for several reasons. Even without Marco's incident, we were pretty sure we could win the race because of our fuel strategy. I'm very happy for the team because this is their first ALMS win and they deserved it as they have been done a brilliant job all year long."
Emanuele Pirro (It). Age: 43. Born: Rome, Italy. Lives: Monte Carlo, Monaco:
"I'm so happy for the crew as we have grown so much through the initial stages of this Championship. We were often close to a win but it just never happened so they really deserve this win. For Frank, and myself it's not nice to be always second so I am very happy with our victory today. We put down a strong performance today and all weekend long too. We are still in the running for the Championship so we will keep focusing on that goal."
DRIVERS CLASS TEAM Difference
4) E.Pirro/F.Biela/ LMP1 ADT Champion Racing 111 laps
2) C.Dyson/A.Wallace LMP1 Dyson Racing 1:24.572
1) J.Lehto/M.Werner LMP1 ADT Champion Racing 1 lap
4) C.Field/L.Halliday LMP2 Intersport Racing 6 laps
5) J.Weaver/B.Leitzinger LMP1 Dyson Racing 1.677
For more information on Audi motorsports visit www.audiusa.com. For more information on Champion Racing, visit www.championracing.net.
MEDIA CONTACT: Melissa Grunnah, Audi Sport North America Public Relations