JJ Lehto and Johnny Herbert scored a dominating win Saturday in the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, leading nearly all of the 1,000-mile American Le Mans Series sports car endurance race in the ADT Champion Racing Audi R8.
The race ended the nine-race 2003 season for the ALMS and determined several driving titles that had not yet been clinched.
Frank Biela and Marco Werner won the LMP 900 driving championship by finishing third overall, while Chris Dyson clinched the LMP 675 driving title. And by finishing third in the GTS class, Chevrolet won the GTS class Manufacturer's Championship with its Corvette team.
Lehto started third in the Champion car but took the lead on the first lap of the race. After racing hard with the Infineon Team Joest Audi of Biela and Werner in the early going, Lehto and Herbert were able to cruise after most of their strongest competitors experienced problems. They scored an eight-lap win.
"It was a nice, nice race for us," said Lehto, who lost the Petit Le Mans in 1999 in the waning stages when his co-driver spun out. "I've been trying for a long time to win this one and it's great to finally get it."
"JJ did a great job and did a lot of the hard work," said Herbert. "Every time I got into the car, he had given us a big lead. It's been wonderful driving with him this year."
David Saelens, Olivier Beretta and Max Papis finished second in a Panoz LMP01 for JML Team Panoz, while Biela and Werner finished third after a day that included several incidents.
Jon Field, Duncan Dayton and Larry Connor won the LMP 675 class in the Intersport Racing Lola EX257-Judd, while Chris Dyson, Didier de Radigues and Chad Block finished second. Dyson clinched the P675 class driving championship. Finishing third in class was the WR-Mazda of Jim Downing, Howard Katz and Yojira Terada.
The win was the second in a row in the Petit Le Mans for the Intersport team, which switched from AER to Judd power prior to the race. Despite some overheating problems, the car finished well ahead of the other P675 competitors.
"I have to give Jon [Field] credit for making that decision," said Dayton, who drove all season in the Intersport car and was part of three wins. "I could tell a big difference driving a non-turbo car, especially in traffic."