Sonoma, 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
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
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
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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