Lehto, Werner win Petit

JJ Lehto and Marco Werner survived a grueling sports car endurance race to win the ALMS Petit Le Mans race on Saturday at Road Atlanta

Lehto, Werner win Petit

The drivers of the ADT Champion Racing Audi R8 helped Audi clinch its fifth consecutive manufacturer's championship and earned a first team title for Champion. The team also had a sweep of the top two as Johnny Herbert and Pierre Kaffer finished second in another Champion Audi.

The first hours of the 1,000-mile contest featured a hot contest involving five Prototypes with the Dyson Racing Lola B01/60-AER of James Weaver leading much of the early going after starting on the pole.

The two Champion Audis mixed it up with the Creation Autosportif DBA-Zytek of Nicolas Minassian and Jamie Campbell-Walter and the two Dyson Lolas, the other driven by Chris Dyson and Jan Lammers. Also running strongly in the early going was the Intersport Racing Lola B01/60-Judd of Jon Field, Duncan Dayton and Mike Durand.

But one by one, several of the contenders encountered problems, including the Weaver car, which became stuck in fifth gear and then spent time behind the wall for repairs. The Creation machine retired with engine failure, and the Dyson-Lammers car fell several laps behind.

That left the race for the overall win to the two Audis, and the cars traded the lead several times before the Herbert-Kaffer car slid off course and was briefly stuck in a gravel trap in Turn 10 with just under two hours left.

"It was a great race for us," said Werner. "We had a lot more competition than the other races. We had a very strong start in the beginning. It was very fun, the car was very good for me in traffic which I think was the secret to winning. We had that little bit of trouble with the louver in the front which affects the downforce. One big moment with Jan Lammers pushing me into the grass, but it was ok cause it was good competition, a good fight. It was no problem."

Lehto added: "We planned to have the weak louvers because the harder they are the more rubber they catch. When they break it changed the dynamic slightly. We planned on them breaking, but not so early. We started the set-up with a little bit of oversteer so it could end up with just a bit of oversteer. But we had very long and hard stints so it shows the Audi held up. We had a lot of close calls and close competition. That is how it should be."

Popular Corvette Racing drivers Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell became champions again, clinching the GTS class driving title for the second straight year by finishing second in the GTS class. Driving championship battles in both the LMP2 and GT classes remained alive as the series heads to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California, for the season finale on October 14-16.

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