Bowmanville, August 19, 2001
Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro had almost ten long months to wait for this
moment: For the first time since October 2000 the two-time Le Mans winners
won a race of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS). Both Audi drivers kept a
cool head during the turbulent Canada guest appearance of the ALMS crossing
the finish line as clear winners after 115 exciting laps ahead of the Panoz which
had won at Portland.
The race was decided just 15 minutes before the end when Johnny Herbert
went off the track in the 2000-spec R8 of the Audi customer team Champion.
Before that, the former Formula One driver, who had led stages of the race
together with his partner Andy Wallace, had closed the gap on race leader
Emanuele Pirro to just 2.6 seconds.
Pirro took the lead after his final pit stop thanks to a perfect strategy of the Team
Audi Sport North America. While the Champion squad changed tyres during the
final pit stop, the Audi works team decided to stay on the same set of tyres
gaining the decisive seconds.
Like last year, torrential rain caused a lot of action at Mosport. In the early
stages of the race the former Canadian Grand Prix circuit was extremely
slippery. On the opening lap Rinaldo Capello and Andy Wallace spun off with
their R8 sportscars with one of the Panoz. While Wallace was lucky not to hit
anything hard, the repairs to Capello´s Infineon R8 lasted seven laps. The car
finally retired shortly after the driver change, when Tom Kristensen came onto
the wet part of the track on his slick tyres while passing a slower car, crashing
heavily into the barriers.
Frank Biela, start driver in the #2 Infineon Audi R8, drove very sensibly
especially in the early wet stages laying the foundations for the eventual victory
which Biela/Pirro were able to achieve despite a 10-second penalty.
The Team Audi Sport North America, however, has no time to party: Because
the next round of the ALMS is scheduled as early as next Saturday at Mid-Ohio,
the damaged Infineon Audi R8 of Capello/Kristensen has to be repaired in
record time. The Champion team faces a similar challenge with the car of