|Road Atlanta 2003|
|Petit Le Mans|
|American Le Mans Series: Qualifying Report |
The Team ADT Champion Racing Audi R8 of Johnny Herbert and JJ Lehto starts the “Petit Le Mans” 1,000-mile race at Road Atlanta from third place on the 36-car grid. Lehto stopped the clock at 1min 12.700secs, an average speed of almost 126mph around the 12-turn, 2.54-mile track in the 20-minute qualifying session.
Having initially set the fastest time on intermediate tires, the track surface remaining damp after a brief shower an hour before the time trial, Lehto and Marco Werner (Joest Audi) pitted together for slicks with JJ continuing to set the pace before Werner registered a succession of quick laps. Lehto responded - after a brief stop for more fuel – improving his time twice only to be denied a front row start in the dying seconds by James Weaver (Lola-MG). The Florida-based team will be bidding for its fourth ALMS victory of the season.
“JJ and I scored Team ADT Champion Racing’s maiden ALMS victory here at Road Atlanta less than four months ago and we’ve added another two wins since including the last race in Miami. I’ve finished second and third over the past two years in the Petit race for Champion. Because I drove for Bentley in the opening ALMS race this year and finished third, one place behind JJ in the Champion Audi, I cannot win the Driver’s title so it would therefore be nice to win one of the ‘big’ sportscar races this year.”
“I was fastest for much of the session but not at the right time - the finish! I needed to pit for more fuel near the end and then found the car suffering too much understeer. The big shame was losing out on a front row start when Weaver went second fastest. But my goal remains very simple - to go out and win the Petit Le Mans race to keep my slim Driver’s title hopes alive. Frank [Biela] and Marco [Werner] obviously start favorites to claim the championship but I will give my best shot.”
“I’ve driven in testing and practice over the past couple of days and I feel very comfortable in the car but unless either JJ or Johnny has a problem in the race, I will not drive - it’s just a precaution.”
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