LE MANS, France (June 13, 2001) -- Tom Kristensen turned the fastest lap of the day Wednesday to win the provisional pole position for the 69th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Other teams from the American Le Mans Series led the way in the event's GTS and GT classes.
Kristensen, driving an Audi R8, turned the Circuit de la Sarthe in 3:32.458, leading the LMP 900 class as well as the rest of the 48 cars participating in the first day of qualifying. A second round on Thursday will set the starting grid for the race, which begins at 4 p.m. local time on Saturday.
Denmark's Kristensen is one of many drivers from the American Le Mans Series participating in the race. His team, Audi Sport Team Joest, is among 21 ALMS teams in the event.
ALMS regular Ron Fellows of Canada escaped injury when his Chevrolet Corvette C5-R spun during qualifying and crashed hard into a tire wall at one of the circuit's chicanes. Fellows had set the fast time in the field's GTS class, but his time was later beaten by a Saleen S7R driven by Oliver Gavin of England.
Meanwhile, the all-American Callaway C-12 team led the GT class in Wednesday's qualifying. The team is taking on a field of 10 Porsches in the GT class, but posted the fastest time of the session at 4:13.063. Drivers include Cort Wagner of Santa Monica, Calif., Vic Rice of San Rafael, Calif., and Bob Mazzuoccola of Staten Island, N.Y.
Seventeen American drivers are participating in the event. The highest in the provisional qualifying was Butch Leitzinger of State College, Pa., co-driver for Team Bentley, whose car was seventh. Wayne Taylor of Altamonte Springs, Fla., co-driver of the DAMS Cadillac, was 11th. Both teams are in the LMP 900 class and will challenge for the overall win.
The GTS class-leading Saleen also has American Terry Borcheller of Phoenix as one of its drivers for the race. The car was 26th overall in Wednesday's qualifying session.
The Corvette of Fellows ended up second-fastest in the GTS class. Americans Johnny O'Connell of Flowery Branch, Ga., and Scott Pruett of Charlotte, N.C., are his co-drivers. Americans Andy Pilgrim of Aventura, Fla., and Kelly Collins of Corona del Mar, Calif., co-driving in another Corvette, were third in the GTS class.
Other American drivers and how they fared in Wednesday's qualifying session:
Rick Fairbanks, Greenville, S.C., and Chris Gleason, Johnstown, Pa., Lola B2K-Nissan; sixth in LMP 675 class (28th overall).
David Murry, Atlanta; Reynard 01Q-Judd, seventh in LMP 675 class (30th overall).
Charlie Slater, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Saleen S7R, eighth in GTS class (35th overall).
Gunnar Jeannette, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., Porsche 911 GT3 RS, seventh in GT class (44th overall).
Terry Lingner, Indianapolis; Chris MacAllister, Indianapolis, Porsche 911 GT3 RS, 11th in GT class (48th overall).
American-based teams and how they fared in Wednesday's first round of qualifying:
Champion Racing (LMP 900), Audi R8, third in class and third overall.
Panoz Motor Sports (LMP 900), Panoz LMP 07, 19th and 20th in class, 22nd and 25th overall.
Dick Barbour Racing (LMP 675), Reynard 01Q-Judd, fourth and seventh in class, 23rd and 30th overall.
Roock-KnightHawk Racing (LMP 675), Lola B2K-Nissan, sixth in class, 28th overall.
Saleen-Allen Speedlab (GTS), Saleen S7R, first in class, 26th overall.
Corvette Racing (GTS), Corvette C5-R, second and third in class, 27th and 29th overall.
Aspen Knolls Racing (GT), Callaway C-12, first in class, 37th overall.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans will be televised live in the United States on the Speedvision Network beginning at 9:30 a.m. (Eastern time) on Saturday. The race can also be heard online at www.radiolemans.com.