AUDIS LEAD FRONT-RUNNING SERIES CONTINGENT AT LE MANS Dindo Capello put the diesel-powered Audi R10 TDI on the pole for Le Mans. Le Mans, France - The front of the grid at the 24 Hours of Le Mans will have a strong American Le Mans Series ...
AUDIS LEAD FRONT-RUNNING SERIES CONTINGENT AT LE MANS
Dindo Capello put the diesel-powered Audi R10 TDI on the pole for Le Mans.
Le Mans, France - The front of the grid at the 24 Hours of Le Mans will have a strong American Le Mans Series flavor. A pair of diesel-powered Audi R10 TDIs took the top two spots in qualifying for the historic French endurance classic.
Dindo Capello, co-leader in the American Le Mans Series' LMP1 class, turned in the quickest lap during the two-day qualifying session at Le Mans with a 3:30.466 lap Thursday night. Capello, a two-time winner at the 24 Hours and a teammate of Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen this weekend, made his return to La Sarthe one he won't forget soon.
Marco Werner qualified the other diesel-powered Audi prototype second with a lap of 3:30.584. Werner is a two-time LMP1 champion in the American Le Mans Series and will drive at Le Mans with Emanuele Pirro and Frank Biela, who shared the Series' LMP1 crown last season.
"I got a perfectly clean flying lap, so I was lucky," Capello said. "Marco wasn't so lucky, so he lost a couple of tenths of a second. He could very well have taken pole from us. We are not using qualifying tires, as they don't even last us a full lap because of the tremendous torque on this car. We are using the softest possible race tires we have."
The two Audis were two seconds clear of the two Pescarolos, which figure to be the closest challengers to the diesel-powered entries. Already this year, the R10 TDI has won at Sebring, considered the best test for Le Mans.
"We had a clear program to develop the car, and we have been successful in what have set out to do," said Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. "We are very happy. Everything is running fine. (The Pescarolos) are very quick and it will be a good battle."
Tomas Enge is on the GT1 pole again at Le Mans for Prodrive.
The highly competitive GT1 class also saw a 1-2 finish for American Le Mans Series teams, this time courtesy of Aston Martin Racing. Tomas Enge put the No. 007 Aston Martin DBR9 on the class pole with a time of 3:52.015 to edge out Stephane Sarrazin and the sister car by 0.546 seconds.
The Aston Martin entries were more than 1.5 seconds better than their closest class competitors. Among them are Corvette Racing's two Corvette C6.Rs, the fastest being the No. 64 of Olivier Beretta, Oliver Gavin and Jan Magnussen that qualified third in class, with the sister car sixth.
"We always know that we will be fast here," Enge said. "But the race will be very different. We will have to do everything we did in 2003 (a class victory for Prodrive in a Ferrari) to win. Back in the US, the Corvettes are beating us. So we would very much like to get a victory here."
Seventh in class was the ACEMCO Motorsports S7R of Terry Borcheller, Johnny Mowlem and Christian Fittipaldi.
In LMP2, Intersport Racing's AER-powered Lola B05/40 qualified second in class thanks to Clint Field's lap of 3:43.869. Intersport is the defending class champion in the American Le Mans Series and won in LMP2 at Le Mans in 2004. Miracle Motorsports' Courage C65-AER will start seventh in class.
The Intersport Racing Lola will start second in LMP2.
"Obviously we wish we were on the pole," said Field, who is driving with Liz Halliday and Duncan Dayton. "But it doesn't matter for the race. We have a very good car and we hope we can keep going until the end. We will have to push, but it has been the car that spends the least time in the pits that has won. Hopefully we'll have a reliable car."
In GT2, Flying Lizard Motorsports was the fastest Series team in qualifying. Patrick Long put the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR in fourth position with a lap of 4:05.266. He was a half second ahead of Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing's Jorg Bergmeister, his teammate in the American Le Mans Series, and another 1.5 seconds better than the Panoz Esperante GTLM of Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz.
"This is a long track, but it has a nice flow," Long said. "I really like driving here. When you first go out you just try to chip away at it slowly, just take a little bit out of it at a time. But you can really feel that momentum build. We still have a lot left in the car, and a lot left in the track."
The 24 Hours of Le Mans starts at 5 p.m. local time (11. a.m. EDT) on Saturday and finishes at 5 p.m. on Sunday. The race will be broadcast on SPEED Channel in North America and in Europe on MotorsTV, which will have flag-to-flag, extended 24-hour coverage. Live radio coverage will be available at radiolemans.com <http://www.radiolemans.com> .
The next round of the 2006 American Le Mans Series is the New England Grand Prix, set for July 1 at Lime Rock Park. The race is scheduled for a 3 p.m. EDT start. CBS Sports will televise the event from 4 to 6 p.m. EDT on July 2. MotorsTV will air the race from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. CET on July 2. Live coverage will be available at americanlemans.com