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PIRRO IS STAR OF THE NIGHT AT AMERICAN LE MANS BANQUET; GM'S CLAUDIO HONORED WITH SPECIAL AWARD FROM THE FANS

BRASELTON, Ga. (October 7, 2001) -- Italy's Emanuele Pirro was the star of the evening Sunday night as the American Le Mans Series concluded its 2001 season with a lavish awards ceremony at the Chateau Elan.

Pirro, driver of the Audi R8 for Audi Sport North America, was honored as the 2001 American Le Mans Series champion in the headlining LMP 900 class. He received a championship trophy and ring from series founder Don Panoz.

"I love racing in America," said Pirro during his acceptance remarks, addressing an audience of 500 who attended the banquet. "I've met so many wonderful people and made so many friends. I didn't know what to expect when I came here last year."

During his remarks, Pirro asked co-driver Frank Biela to join him onstage. Biela finished second in the championship standings, only a few points behind Pirro. "I'm 50 percent of the championship, and he is the other 50 percent," said Pirro of Biela.

General Motors executive Gary Claudio was the surprised recipient of the American Le Mans Series "From the Fans" award, presented by Panoz. The award was voted to Claudio by fans of the series for his contribution to sports car racing through the development of the Corvette racing program in the ALMS. In accepting, Claudio asked Corvette project manager Doug Fehan to join him onstage and share the award.

Also honored during the banquet were the other class driving champions for the series in 2001, including LMP 675 champion Didier de Radigues, who drove for Dick Barbour Racing in a Reynard 01Q-Judd; GTS champion Terry Borcheller, who drove for Konrad Team Saleen in a Saleen S7R; and GT champion Jorg Muller, driver for BMW Motorsport in a BMW M3 GTR.

Manufacturer championships were won by Audi in the LMP 900 class, Lola-Nissan in the LMP 675 class, Chevrolet in the GTS class and BMW in the GT class. Team championships were won by Audi Sport North America in LMP 900, Dick Barbour Racing in LMP 675, Corvette Racing in GTS and BMW Motorsport in GT.

Le Mans and Sportscar Racer magazine presented "Personality of the Year" awards in all four classes, with Jan Magnussen winning for LMP 900, de Radigues for LMP 675, Johnny O'Connell for GTS and JJ Lehto and Muller sharing the GT award.

Tire manufacturer championships were presented to Michelin for both LMP 900 and GT, Goodyear for GTS and Avon for LMP 675. Mechanic of the Year awards were presented to the lead mechanic on each team championship winner, including Jurgen Hoerdt from Audi Sport North America, Tim Mundy from Dick Barbour Racing, Bill DeLong from Corvette Racing and Wolfgang Egger from BMW Motorsport.

Also recognized during the evening were the top six drivers from the Panoz GT Pro Series, which accompanied the ALMS at several events during the season. The top three in both the GTS and GT classes were recognized, including GTS champion Gary Curtis and GT titlist Barry Davison.

Bob Varsha of the Speedvision Television Network was Master of Ceremonies for the event. Each champion driver and each category of awards was introduced by a music video that included scenes from the 2001 season.

There was also a special video in honor of drivers ALMS drivers Bob Wollek and Michele Alboreto, who died during the 2001 season.

-30-

MEDIA CONTACT: Andy Hall, American Le Mans Series Director of Media & Communications (317) 295-3500, ext. 31.

 

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