October 19, 2003

ALMS Petit Le Mans: The Race at a Glance, Quotes, Results
Text and photos courtesy of audi-sportpress.com

For the fourth time in a row Audi has won the Petit Le Mans race at Road Atlanta (USA). JJ Lehto and Johnny Herbert, driving Team ADT Champion Racing's Audi R8, scored an unrivalled victory in the 2003 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) finale. Frank Biela and Marco Werner, driving Infineon Team Joest's Audi R8, dropped to the back of the field early because of a crash. However, the two Germans fought their way back to third position clinching the ALMS title. Reinhold Joest's team won the ALMS Teams' Championship for the fourth consecutive time.

The race at a glance

  • Weather: dry, warm
  • Starting positions: 1 #1 Werner; 3 #38 Lehto
  • Start: #1 Werner drops to second behind #16 Weaver
  • Lap 1: #38 Lehto passes #1 Werner and #16 Weaver, #1 Werner also passes #16 Weaver
  • Hour 1: A total of three caution periods, #38 Lehto ten seconds ahead of #1 Werner after one hour
  • Hour 2: #1 Biela has to avoid a GTS car, touching a wall. Front suspension, rear section, front splitter and bodywork parts are changed in 10 minutes 23 seconds. 10 laps lost. #1 Biela drops to the back of the field
  • Hour 3: #1 Biela pits during a caution period to bleed the brakes
  • Hour 4: New nose for #38 Herbert. After four hours #38 Herbert/Lehto have a 4-lap lead, #1 Biela/Werner 9 laps down back in the top 10
  • Hour 5: #1 Biela has nose changed. Engine of #38 Lehto does not restart after routine pit-stop, battery changed, one lap lost. After five hours #38 Herbert/Lehto are leading by four laps, #1 Biela/Werner eight laps down in 6th position
  • Hour 6: #38 Lehto has nose changed again, one lap lost. #1 Biela has an unscheduled pit-stop to remove grass from the coolers, but is able to move to third before end of 6th hour
  • Hour 7: Engine of #1 Werner does not restart after routine stop, battery and rear bodywork changed, one lap lost. #38 Herbert/Lehto enjoy a 5-lap lead after seven hours, #1 Biela/Werner third, 8 laps down
  • Hour 8: #1 Werner spins into the gravel, gets towed out and is able to continue, three laps lost, drops to fourth but retakes third position during 8th hour
  • Hour 9: Unscheduled pit-stop for #1 Werner because of a tyre pressure alert. #1 Biela loses the little windscreen on the cockpit
  • Finish: #38 Herbert/Lehto win, 3rd place for #1 Biela/Werner
  • Fourth victory of the season for Team ADT Champion Racing
  • Fourth consecutive Petit Le Mans victory for Audi
  • First Petit Le Mans victory for Champion Racing, JJ Lehto and Johnny Herbert
  • Frank Biela and Marco Werner clinch the Drivers' title, Infineon Team Joest win the Teams' Championship
  • Audi had already won the Manufacturers' title

    Quotes after the race

    Johnny Herbert (Team ADT Champion Racing Audi R8 #38): "Having missed out on victory at Sebring and at Le Mans this year, to win Petit Le Mans is very satisfying. I am also delighted for Dave Maraj whose team has shown this year that it can not only match but beat the hugely respected Joest team. I was able to relax and take no risks today, because after Frank's accident there was no pressure."

    Frank Biela (Infineon Team Joest Audi R8 #1): "Today we have seen how difficult it is to win a race or a championship. After 69.8 percent of the race we thought we had the title - just to see us standing in the gravel. I had a similar situation: I was pushed off, had to brake hard to avoid a collision. That's why I spun off. The contact with the wall was heavy. I was sure that I would not make it back to the pits. Luckily I was able to bring the car back and the boys were able to repair it. It's a shame for the team, because today more was possible. But I am so happy we won the title."

    Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Sport): "The Champion team drove a great race - fast and without mistakes from start to finish. The Joest team had a lot of bad luck today. Despite that the crew were able to achieve a good result of which they can be proud. Winning the Teams' and Drivers' titles for a fourth consecutive time is a very special achievement. Frank and Marco can also be proud of a great season. That Marco has won the title being a newcomer, is certainly something special."

    Results

    1 Herbert/Lehto (Audi R8) 394 laps in 9h 31m 10.608s
    2 Beretta/Saelens/Papis (Panoz) - 8 laps
    3 Biela/Werner (Audi R8) - 9 laps
    4 Jeannette/Leuenberger/Maxwell (Panoz) - 15 laps
    5 Kox/Enge/Menu (Ferrari) - 19 laps
    6 Magnussen/Brabham/Davidson (Ferrari) - 19 laps
    7 Gavin/Collins/Pilgrim (Chevrolet) - 28 laps
    8 Bernhard/Bergmeister/Dumas (Porsche) - 34 laps
    9 Maassen/Luhr (Porsche) - 34 laps
    10 Lewis/Drissi/Patterson (R&S-Lincoln) - 34 laps