Rousing Lime Rock repeat

LAKEVILLE -- It may have been a bumpy race, but there was no denying the team of J.J. Lehto and Marco Werner at Lime Rock Park.

For the second straight year, the duo captured the overall and P1 championship at the American Le Mans Series New England Grand Prix, racing their Audi R8 to a winning time of 2:45.48.079 on the 1.54-mile track.

With 42 minutes left in the race, the rear of Chris Dyson's car (Lola EX257) was on fire and spilled oil on the track. After a 20-minute caution, Lehto, who drove the second half of the race, maintained the lead Werner took in the first lap of the competition.

The team of Emanuele Pirro and Frank Biela, also driving an Audi R8, came in second overall in a time of 2:45:49.798.

"The race was so close, it was just a matter of getting our tires to work," said Lehto, who picked up his 23rd ALMS victory.

"It was a dog fight until the end and any of the last four cars could have won. We were lucky that things went our way."

The victory was Werner's 14th on the ALMS tour.

"Everything went perfect for me in the car," Werner said.

"We have a great team and everything from the pit stops to the tires (Michelin) were very good. The key for me was being pushy in the end. I had to be aggressive from the start."

Olivier Beretta and Oliver Gavin (Corvette C6-R) came in third overall (2:46:55.039) and notched the GTI title. The victories were the 20th and 11th for Beretta and Gavin, respectively.

"We had no problems with our car or the track," said Beretta, despite the fact his team had 20 seconds added to their time because of a pit exit violation.

"The traffic was bad and the track was narrow, but it was the same for everyone. We are very happy with our finish."

Chris McMurry and Jeff Bucknum won the P2 championship, their fifth each, in their Courage C-65 (2:46:39.411).

"Marco and J.J. did a great job out there," Bucknum said. "We had them measured up, but unfortunately they were able to beat us. You have to appreciate what they did."

Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas picked up the last title, the GT2, in their Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (2:45:59.946).

Randy Pobst, a Lime Rock favorite over the years, came in 13th with Ian Bass (2:46:24.156).

The Le Mans Series now moves on to Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., July 15-17.

The next event to take place at Lime Rock is the Ferrari and Maserati Racing Days next Friday and Saturday. Tickets are $40 for the weekend.