Frank Biela and Marco Werner drove the Infineon Team Joest Audi R8 to a dominating win in today's American Le Mans Series Le Grand Prix de Trois-Rivieres on the historic Trois-Rivieres street circuit in Canada.
The German duo scored their third American Le Mans Series win of the 2003 season in the LMP 900 class, leading all 169 laps that comprised the three-hour timed event on the 1.521-mile circuit.
"I have a lot of experience on street circuits, and you have to like street circuits in order to do well on them," said Werner, a veteran driver who is in his first full season on the series. Werner had qualified the Audi R8 on the pole in Saturday's qualifying and drove the first hour of the event.
"JJ Lehto pushed me really hard in my stint," he said. "I could never get more than four or five seconds ahead of him. It was a difficult stint with the traffic, and there was a lot of pressure."
Johnny Herbert and Lehto finished second in the ADT Champion Audi, falling out of contention due to pitting just before a full-course yellow and losing a lap. Although Herbert was able to pass Biela late in the race and make up the lap, he did not have time to challenge for the win.
"For 25 or 30 minutes I pushed hard to keep him (Herbert) behind me," said Biela. "If there had been another yellow, he would have been right back behind me racing for the lead. I finally let him go with five minutes left because I thought it would be safe at that point."
Olivier Beretta and David Saelens third in the JML Team Panoz Panoz LMP 01, the best finish of the season for the Panoz team.
Oliver Gavin and Kelly Collins won the GTS class in a Chevrolet Corvette C5-R, finishing fourth overall, with the other factory Corvette of Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell finished fifth overall and second in class. The two cars battled back and forth for most of the race but Gavin was able to drive away from Fellows in the last 45 minutes of the race to record the second win of the season for he and Collins.
"Our cars were very equal, but I cooked the brakes in my first stint when I was following Tomas (Enge)," said Gavin, referring to the GTS polesitter in the Prodrive Ferrari 550 Maranello. "That allowed the other car to run ahead of us for a lot of the race, then we got back ahead and I think traffic cost Ron a lot of time in the end."
Jon Field and Duncan Dayton won the LMP 675 class in the Intersport Lola EX257-MG, the only LMP 675 car still running at the finish. Both cars from the Dyson Racing stable had mechanical problems after running first and second for most of the race. However, the Intersport team was happy to just be racing after losing its car in a practice crash last week and then renting an older model MG-Lola that had to be flown in from England on short notice.
"It's great to get this result after the bad luck that Duncan had last week with that wreck," said Field. "Our guys worked really hard to make this happen and our thanks go to Chamberlain for helping us. Duncan called me on Monday and said 'let's go for it,' so we did and I'm glad he had the idea."
Lucas Luhr and Sascha Maassen won the GT class in the Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RS, finishing three laps ahead of the Risi Competizione Ferrari 360 Modena of Ralf Kelleners and Anthony Lazzaro. It was the third win in four ALMS races this year for Maassen and Luhr.
The ALMS will have a weekend off before concluding its two-race Canadian swing with the Grand Prix of Mosport at Mosport International Raceway near Toronto Aug. 15-17.