Audi Celebrate 1-2 Victory in ALMS Finale
13 victories in 14 races – this is the outstanding record for the Audi R8 in the 2004 motorsport season. In the finale of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) at Laguna Seca (California), Team ADT Champion Racing ended the season for Audi with a 1-2 victory. Former Formula 1 driver Johnny Herbert and Pierre Kaffer celebrated their first joint success in front of JJ Lehto and Marco Werner, who had prematurely clinched the Drivers’ title.
A sudden rain shower made the final stages at Laguna Seca very exciting, Johnny Herbert and Pierre Kaffer being a bit luckier. Two caution periods cost JJ Lehto and Marco Werner their possible seventh victory of the season. Despite having opened a gap of more than a minute over their team-mates, they dropped to second place ten laps from the end of the race.
The battle within the team seemed to be decided for JJ Lehto and Marco Werner as early as in the first corner, when Johnny Herbert was spun around by a competitor dropping him to the back of the field. JJ Lehto took the lead during the first hour after a thrilling battle with Nicolas Minassian, steadily extending his lead. Despite that, Herbert and Kaffer were in front at the end.
Quotes after the race
Johnny Herbert (Team ADT Champion Racing / Audi R8 #2): “At the first corner, I was tapped into a spin. There was no damage and I recovered from the back of the field to a rostrum position – the car and Michelin tyres were perfect. The first of the two safety car periods in the closing 40 minutes brought Pierre to within eight seconds of Marco and 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…”
Pierre Kaffer (Team ADT Champion Racing / Audi R8 #2): “Laguna Seca is really a breath-taking track. I’ve never experienced anything like it in the last hour. It was incredibly slippery. I have to thank the team for giving me the rain tyres in the right moment. The last six minutes were real horror. There was a lot of talking on the radio, but I was so busy with myself and the track that I could not listen – at Laguna Seca you don’t see much in darkness. Thanks to Audi for a great season.”
JJ Lehto (Team ADT Champion Racing / Audi R8 #38): “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 happend with the pace car. 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 (Team ADT Champion Racing / Audi R8 #38): “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 victory 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 important.”
Dave Maraj (Team Director Team ADT Champion Racing): “It is great to give Audi again a 1-2 victory. It was a great end of a great season for our team.”
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorport): “This was an exciting race that had everything. A 1-2 victory is a great way for the Audi R8 to end the year. This year we did not start as often from pole position as in previous years but we can be content with the results. Fast and reliable – this combination makes the Audi R8 so strong.”
1 Herbert/Kaffer (Audi R8) 169 laps in 4hrs 00m 51.126s