Though Infineon Team Joest is entering the season's penultimate American Le Mans Series round with an 18-point lead in the standings, spectators have been warned not expect a tactical drive from Frank Biela and Marco Werner on 27 September.

The two Germans are determined to follow in the tyre tracks of former Joest team members such as Allan McNish, Emanuele Pirro and Tom Kristensen by taking the crown, but refuse to do it by sitting back and accumulating points in one of the most open ALMS series for some time.

"Our goal is to also win the last two ALMS rounds of the season," announced team director Reinhold Joest, before setting off for the Grand Prix Americas in Miami.

The event is a highlight on the ALMS calendar, and shares top billing with the CART single-seater championship next weekend, bringing a double helping of street racing to Florida. The tight schedule presents an especially difficult challenge to the teams - with practice, qualifying and the race taking place over two days rather than the usual three.

"We have a lot of good memories of Miami and want to win like we did last year," confirmed technical director Ralf Juttner, "The track has likely become faster after having been rebuilt and, because of the new layout, no-one can use the old data as a frame of reference.

"However, until now, we've been able to set-up a good car for our drivers almost everywhere, so I truly believe in our engineering skills. Frank won last year in Miami, and Marco showed in Trois-Rivieres that he can do well in a street race. This also makes me feel very confident. However, because of the expected heat and high humidity, it's going to be a tough weekend for the whole team."

Having already taken four wins in 2003, and returning to Miami as defending champion, Biela is looking forward to the weekend.

"We're all looking forward to Miami," he said of the slimmed-down Joest team, "The atmosphere is awesome, and racing on street circuits is something very special.

"Fortunately, the part of the course that was so slippery last year - and which had little to do with driving - is no longer there. I hope that the new part of the course is at the same level of what the rest of the course was like last year.

"The spectators will definitely see an interesting race, because the track is so narrow and short. Miami wasn't especially exhausting last year, but it's important to remain concentrated. Between the concrete walls, the smallest mistake inevitably leads to retirement, which is something we cannot afford. We have the championship in the back of our minds, but we also want to win the last two races. That's why it will be important for us to find the right compromise between speed and the least possible amount of risk."

Team-mate Werner will be one less thing for Biela to worry about, despite the fact that he is racing for the first time in Miami. Having already shown his street racing prowess during his single-seater career, Werner has become both a huge fan and an exponent of street circuits, and is ready to reprise his Trois Rivieres showing in Florida.

"At Trois-Rivieres, I proved myself as a driver on a street circuit, so I'm looking forward to Miami and am really excited about the race," he said, "In Miami, it's again my turn to do the qualifying, and I hope to be able to capture the pole position for Team Joest like I did at Trois-Rivieres and Road America.

"On a street circuit, it's important to start from the front, because it's even more difficult to pass someone than on a normal course. Even though we have a comfortable lead in the championship, I'm not thinking about simply bringing home points. I have too much fun winning to be able to do that!"

 

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