Portland, July 30, 2005
Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro, winners of the Portland International
Grand Prix battled heat, traffic, and penalties to claim their second
consecutive victory in the American Le Mans Series. Today's hard fought
win now puts the drivers of the No. 2 Audi R8 in the lead for the
Championship. Unfortunately the opposite occurred for their sister car,
the No. 1 Audi R8 piloted by JJ Lehto and Marco Werner. An unavoidable
accident only one hour into the 2:45 minute race retired the No. 1 Audi
The action started early for both cars when contact was made between
Biela and Werner as they were coming down the front straight heading
into Turn 1. Werner who was fighting to keep his second place position
found himself blocked by traffic and as Werner veered right to go around
the slower GT1 car, he made side to side contact with Biela in the No. 2
Audi causing some rear body parts to come off Biela's car.
Ten minutes later, Werner pitted and did a driver change with his
teammate JJ Lehto. While the car was in the pits, the team replaced a left
rear broken exhaust pipe and the rear wing. The car was back in tact,
Lehto was in the cockpit, and the racing resumed. A short ten minutes
later, something underneath the carriage broke causing the entire rear
wing of the car to fly off sending Lehto and the car into a viscous spin and
into the wall in the back straight heading into Turn 10. Post analysis of the
wreck showed the rear end was still latched and speculation remains
that something underneath was weakened during the earlier incident with
Werner and caused some unknown structural failure. Lehto and Werner
were finished for the day.
The action continued on the track when Emanuele Pirro replaced Biela
and continued the charge to the front. During one of Pirro's pit stops for
fuel, a crewmember was over the wall too early thus causing a twenty-
second penalty to be issued to the No. 2 car. This moved Pirro into third
position but not for long. He chased down the first Dyson car in front of
him, passed him and was on the charge for the lead Dyson car. With two
laps to go, James Weaver in the No. 16 Dyson car ran out of fuel and
Pirro flew by him toward the white flag and ultimately the checkered flag.
Pirro and Biela now have their second win on season.
The Road America 500, Round seven of the American Le Mans Series, is
scheduled for August 19-21 on the 4.048-mile track located in Elkhart
Lake, WI. Television coverage will be provided by SPEED Channel.
"The accident was big. That's why we can't fix the car. There was damage
all over the place, in the front, rear, and in the gearbox. Everything was so
badly damaged we couldn't fix the car and complete 70% of the race to
get some points, which is unfortunate for us. Now we are behind but we
haven't really lost the Championship. There are still four more races and
two of them give more points because they are longer so that may help
us. It will be tough and we need to get it right from here on. We need to
start winning races again."
"I really don't know what happened today. The car was quite good for me
and I think once I had contact with Frank (Biela) I believe something
happened more than with just the wing. It was obviously a harder impact
than we thought and something broke loose underneath on causing JJ to
spin. This is not a day I want to remember."
"We did a great job this weekend. The car was prepared well, the crew
guys found a great set-up for us, and we were really confident going into
the race. I tried to take some risk as you have to do sometimes, but I also
tried to keep the car on the road. For us it was a good race, a good
weekend and very important for the Championship."
"It's a very good day for us. We had to work a little harder because our
race engineer was not here this weekend. The race was very competitive.
We played a great strategy. Frank gave me a lot of boost so I was really
motivated. We didn't have much luck early in the season and now we are
on a good wave. We need to ride it for as long as we can."