Monterey, September 14, 2002
After a month-long break the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) now revs
up. The Team Audi Sport North America faces an intensive final spurt with
three races inside just four weeks. The Laguna Seca race in California on
22 September marks the beginning. On 5 October the Le Mans prototypes
compete on the streets of Miami (Florida) for the first time. And just one
week later, on 12 October, the “Petit Le Mans“ in Road Atlanta (Georgia)
marks the final round, and the last opportunity for the title decision.
With three rounds to go Kristensen and Capello are separated by three
points at the top of the ALMS overall rankings. However, both Audi works
drivers cannot afford to make the slightest error. Ex-Formula 1 pilot Johnny
Herbert, who competes for the Audi customer team Champion Racing, lies
within striking distance just 23 points in arrears. Theoretically, a total of
eleven pilots still hold title chances.
The Laguna Seca circuit, situated only a few kilometres from the
Californian coastal city of Monterey in rolling countryside, is regarded as
especially challenging. Famous and infamous is the “Cork Screw“ section
of the track, a steeply declining corner combination. Fine sand is blown
across the track from nearby dunes, often making the circuit very slippery.
The Team Audi Sport North America has yet to be beaten in Laguna Seca
and now aims for its third consecutive victory. The crew travels to California
earlier than planned in order to rebuild the R8 of Frank Biela and Emanuele
Pirro there, after it sustained severe damages at the Mosport race.
In order to be fit for the final spurt, the Audi works pilots have enjoyed some
quiet time over the last few weeks. Emanuele Pirro relaxed with his family
in Sardinia, Frank Biela spent time with his daughter in Marienbad. Rinaldo
Capello vacationed in Italy´s Calabria region, with a short break for the
presentation of the new Audi R8 in Lago Maggiore. Tom Kristensen joined
his team mate in Canelli (Italy) for a cycling tour and had a very special
rendezvous at the beginning of September: At home in Denmark, he was
invited to a dinner with Queen Margrethe II.