Halfway update: Champion leads

The Champion Audi squad of JJ Lehto and Johnny Herbert leads the way just past the halfway mark in the Road America ALMS finale. As the clock nears the sixth hour, the team will be wondering if there is time enough left for its Joest Audi rival to claw back the time lost early on.

Halfway update: Champion leads

Frank Biela and Marco Werner are the quickest team circulating at the moment, but still have a lot of catching up to do after Biela tripped over a backmarker in the Esses and damaged his front suspension early in the race. A lengthy pitstop means that, even after over four hours of fast charging, the Audi is still nine laps off the leading R8.

A couple of minor delays to the Champion team, including a battery change and an incident requiring brief nose repairs, will add to the tension and expectation. But Joest, though dedicated to winning, will doubtless be aware that second place would be good enough for the championship.

Between the Audis lies the Olivier Beretta/David Saelens/Max Papis Panoz, six laps behind the Champion Audi and three in front of the Joest car. Despite the impressive rate of Joest's unravelling of laps lost, the lead looks a long way off if there are no problems for the Herbert and Lehto. But Joest shouldat leasst be able to get second with ease in due course.

There's another Panoz behind Biela/Werner in fourth. The second LMP-01, like the Joest Audi, was three laps behind its sister car after six hours in the 1000-mile (or ten-hour) event.

In GTS, Ferrari have had the legs of their Corvette rivals for most of the way. The two leading Prodrive Ferraris have been in a close private duel. Tomas Enge/Peter Kox/Alain Menu were no more than a lap ahead of Jan Magnusson/DavidBrabham/ Anthony Davidson, having gotten away with an excursion after a minor collision with the Joest Audi.

The works Corvettes, although a couple of laps back, are close enough to pounce in the event of problems with the 550 Maranellos. The Alex Job Racing Porsche of Jorg Bergmeister/Romain Dumas/Timo Bernhard leads in the GT class, two laps in front of the team's second entry.

A full report on the Petit Le Mans event will appear tomorrow morning (Sunday).

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