Monterey, September 9, 2001
For the second time in a row Audi has won the title in the American Le Mans
Series (ALMS). After a 1-2-3 victory at Laguna Seca (California), Audi has
already clinched the Manufacturers championship. Also Team Audi Sport North
America cannot be overtaken in the Teams championship in the finale at Road
Atlanta. And only the four Audi works drivers Frank Biela, Rinaldo Capello, Tom
Kristensen and Emanuele Pirro can win the Drivers title.
Team Audi Sport North America, however, had to fight hard once more for
success at Laguna Seca. Pole sitter Rinaldo Capello spun at the first corner
and found himself at the back of the field with the #1 Infineon Audi R8. Driving
the #2 sister car, Frank Biela had a tough battle with Jan Magnussen´s Panoz
and Johnny Herbert´s Champion Audi R8, switching the lead more than once.
The preliminary decision came just before mid-distance: Magnussen retired
after clashing with Herbert, Tom Kristensen had to park the #1 Infineon Audi R8
due to clutch failure.
As the second Panoz retired following collision damage shortly afterwards, only
the remaining Infineon Audi R8 of Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro and the
customer R8 of the Champion team remained in the frame for victory. A 20
second penalty against Herbert because of the collision with Magnussen and
the fact that Team Audi Sport North America changed tyres only once, decided
the race in favour of the Audi works team.
The Audi works team, however, had to wait for its seventh ALMS victory of the
season until the very end: A 38-second advantage Pirro had after his last pit
stop, shrinked rapidly because Andy Wallace had fresher tyres. In the end, Pirro
crossed the finish line just 1.6 seconds ahead of the customer R8.
The team of Stefan Johansson completed the total Audi success at Laguna
Seca finishing third despite Patrick Lemarié being involved in a start collision
dropping him to 26th position at the end of the first lap.