Herbert and Lehto form 'stellar' combo

In the American Le Mans Series, the undulating 2.54-mile Road Atlanta circuit is best known for hosting the 1000-mile Petit Le Mans endurance event. This weekend, however, the stands will echo with the screams of ALMS prototypes as the Chevy Grand Prix of Atlanta gets underway

Herbert and Lehto form 'stellar' combo

British interest in Round Two of the series is being spearheaded by Johnny Herbert, fresh from a sterling performance at La Sarthe as one of 'Les Bentley Boys'. Herbert teams up for the first time with the hugely experienced Finn JJ Lehto, in the Champion Racing Audi R8.

"Champion Racing should have won last year's Petit Le Mans at Atlanta," says Herbert. "Stefan and I led most of the race but ultimately finished second after a number of yellow flag periods fell unkindly for us. This will be my third race at Atlanta in a Champion Audi, having finished third on my Atlanta debut in 2001."

The Lehto/Pirro/Johansson Audi finished third behind the Herbert/Blundell/Brabham Bentley in the Le Mans 24 Hours two weeks ago. With two such stellar drivers in one car, and both 'match fit', the Champion Audi team can rightfully expect a good result this weekend.

"I came close to winning at Atlanta in 1999 but my co-driver (Jorg Muller) spun out in the closing stages," said Lehto. "I love Road Atlanta. It is a demanding track and always a tough race. It is hilly, fast and flowing. The traffic can be a real problem and if you're not careful can lose you a lot of time."

The Infineon Team Joest comes to Road Atlanta as overall championship leader, after winning the season opener at Sebring in March. Frank Biela has already won at Road Atlanta in 2001, while team-mate Marco Werner competes here for the first time. The Werner/Magnussen/Ara combo came an impressive in fourth in France, after Biela's luck, and fuel, ran out early on.

"From now on, all the circuits in America are new to me," said Werner. "I can't wait as I've only heard good things about Road Atlanta. I'm really looking forward to the roller coaster sections which should suit me."

Unfortunately for British fans, BAR test driver Anthony Davidson will not be competing in the remainder of the series, preferring instead to concentrate on his F1 commitments. The young Brit ran well in his Le Mans 24 Hour debut for the Veloqx Prodrive Ferrari team, until a wheel bearing failure pitched him into a tyre wall in the middle of the night. He will be replaced by Jerome Policand.

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