Braselton, GA. - October 1, 2005
Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro clinch ALMS Driver's Championship
It was a "good news, bad news" day for Team ADT Champion Racing.
The good news being Team ADT Champion racing scoring the hat trick at
Petit Le Mans when the No. 2 Audi R8 crossed the finish line in first
position. The other good news was that the drivers of this No. 2 Audi R8,
Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro, earned their second American Le Mans
Series Driver's Championship. Pirro won his first ALMS Driver
Championship in 2001 and Biela earned his in 2003.
The "bad news" occurred with the No. 1 Audi R8 and defending ALMS
Driver Champions JJ Lehto and Marco Werner. When the green flag
dropped at 11:20 a.m., Lehto in the front row charged hard into Turn 1
trying to overtake the pole-sitter Hayanari Schimoda in the Zytek car. As
Lehto was about to make the pass, he was hit in the side and rear by the
Zytek and punted off the track. Part of the problem had to do with the No.
16 Dyson car (James Weaver) trying to squeeze inside both cars and
ultimately shoving both off as they went three-wide going into Turn 1.
JJ Lehto was not pleased. "Schimoda (Zytek) was very slow into the first
corner and was braking far too early. So I took the outside line, James
Weaver (Dyson) took the inside, and then Shimoda moved over on me. I
was outside and I was already ahead of them but I was the one who got
For this incident the crew for the No. 1 Audi replaced both front corners,
the nose box and the clutch master. There was no structural damage to
the car as only bolt on parts were replaced. Troubles would not end there
for the No. 1 team.
After fighting feverishly to make up lost time (30 laps/45 minutes) and
climbing back into third position in the P1 class, Lehto was touched a
second time by Tomas Enge in an Aston Martin as the two cars headed
into the Esses on lap 240. Lehto had to return to the pits and have the tow
linkage in the left rear replaced. Fortunately, the repair time was minimal
and Lehto was back on the track in a flash.
At the end of the 9:16 hour race, Lehto and Werner had to settle for 3rd in
the LMP1 class and 7th overall.
Team ADT Champion Racing now has the privilege of claiming wins at
the three most prestigious sports car races in the world: the 12 Hours of
Sebring, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Petit Le Mans.
And finally, the Audi R8 once again continues it's winning tradition at Petit
Le Mans by earning its sixth consecutive victory. The Audi R8 has never
been beaten at Petit Le Mans since it made its first appearance in 2000.
"Congratulations to Team ADT Champion Racing and to Frank and
Emanuele for winning the Driver's Championship," commented Rod
Bymaster, Motorsports Manager, Audi of America. "Both teams performed
very well given their own circumstances. The No. 2 team should be
extremely proud of how well they have learned and executed operating an
Audi R8. They've done a magnificent job this year."
Team ADT Champion Racing Audi R8 #1
JJ Lehto (Fin)
"We were just unlucky today. The crew did an excellent job in repairing the
car. First lap out the car was fine. And then we just went for it. We had to
charge hard because the team did the job in the paddock so we had to do
our best job on the track. Finishing third after all that isn't so bad and we
still have the opportunity to finish second in the Championship."
Marco Werner (D)
"My thanks to my crew for how well they repaired the our car. We were
able to get excellent lap times after their incredible work. We still
continued to push very hard because in a 10-hour race, you just never
know. Congratulations to the No. 2 team."
Team ADT Champion Racing Audi R8 #2
Frank Biela (D)
"I'm very happy for Champion Racing and Dave Maraj. It was a fantastic
year and we still have one race to go. I can't remember when I have had
so much fun. The race today was tough since the main competition was
out early, it was much easier for us than we expected."
Emanuele Pirro (It)
"We came to Champion Racing with a lot to learn. It took a couple of
races to get into the groove and then we became competitive and we
started to focus on the Championship. I'm very happy the R8 won this
race. I won the first race with the R8 (Sebring 2000) the first 24 Hours of
Le Mans, and now I've won the Driver Championship and the last big race
of the year. Now the Audi R8 can retire. Also, this crew has had the
biggest commitment from the beginning and they truly have set the
example as to how to win a Championship."