Herbert's jinx strikes again

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The Independent Online

Johnny Herbert's recent run of bad luck continued as an early accident severely dented his hopes of American Le Mans Series victory at Trois-Rivières, Quebec, before a storming drive earned the Briton third place.

The three-times Grand Prix winner damaged bodywork early on in the three-hour street race when he tangled with Steve Knight's MG, forcing Herbert to pit for repairs. He changed the damaged rear bodywork in a lightning pit-stop dropping to the back of the 26-car field but charged in to the lead after 70 minutes.

At mid-distance, the pole-starting "factory" Audi of Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro led Herbert by 14 seconds with the Audi driven by Rinaldo Capello and Tom Kristensen, which started 20th after qualifying problems, third.

Herbert briefly regained the lead before handing over to co-driver Stefan Johansson after 128 minutes around the 1.52-mile circuit. But the Swede collected a stop-go penalty for overtaking in a waved yellow flag area, effectively ruling the Champion Audi out of contention.

The Swede lost a lap to the leaders as he served the penalty, leaving the pair third as Kristensen and Capello took victory for the third time in six ALMS races this season. "To win from that far back on the grid on a circuit this small is a tribute to our team," Kristensen said.

Herbert commented: "It was a good race, just a shame that another car ran into me at the start. I managed to get back into second position and led briefly. In the end Stefan was unfortunate, we lost a possible victory. We still finished third which is a good result. However, it was not so good for me that Tom and Rinaldo were the winners which gave them points for the championship I needed."

AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES (Trois Rivières, Can): 1 R Capello and T Kristensen (Infineon Audi R8) 166 laps; 2 F Biela and E Pirro (Infineon (Infineon Audi R8) + 17.802sec; 3 J Herbert and S Johansson (Audi R8) +1lap.