Auburn Hills, Mich. -- On April 14th, Britain's Donington circuit hosts the first of two American Le Mans Series (ALMS) rounds to be held in Europe. For Team Audi Sport North America and its two Infineon Audi R8 cars, the 2:45 hour race on Easter...
Auburn Hills, Mich. -- On April 14th, Britain's Donington circuit hosts the first of two American Le Mans Series (ALMS) rounds to be held in Europe. For Team Audi Sport North America and its two Infineon Audi R8 cars, the 2:45 hour race on Easter weekend is not just the third round of the ALMS season - it is the next step on the way to the season highlight in Le Mans in June. "For the first time we'll encounter several new competitors that are also contesting Le Mans. For this reason, we'll use this round as another way to see how we measure up against them," explains Head of Audi Sport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich.
Although Audi has proved unbeatable since July last year winning ten ALMS races in a row, team director Reinhold Joest and his squad still have something left to prove on European ground. At both European ALMS rounds last year, the team had to settle for podium finishes. The last time the Audi R8 suffered defeat was in 2000 in torrential rain at the Nurburgring. At this time of year, the weather conditions in the British Midlands could very well be similar. However, for Head of Audi Sport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich, this is no reason to worry. "We've conducted rain tire tests with our partner Michelin and are well prepared for all weather conditions."
"Still, I hope it doesn't rain", says Audi pilot Rinaldo Capello, who travels to Britain as points leader after winning the first two ALMS races of this season in Dallas and Sebring. "As opposed to my team mates, I've never raced in Donington. So, I'll have to learn the circuit really quickly, especially considering that we have very little time to practice. At least I have Tom to give me some tips."
Like Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro, Tom Kristensen knows this demanding hill and dale track inside out from his time in British touring cars. "Circuit knowledge is a real advantage," claims Frank Biela who won five races on the Donington track during his touring car career with Audi. "On the other hand, we saw in Adelaide that the top pilots can adapt quickly to any track."
Stefan Johansson and his team will again put up a strong challenge against the Audi works team at their European season debut. At the first race with the 2000-spec R8, the Johansson team finished fourth behind the two works Infineon Audi R8s and the private Audi customer Champion team.
<pre> Current driver points standings:
1. Rinaldo Capello (Infineon Audi R8) 59 2. Tom Kristensen (Infineon Audi R8) 54 3. Emanuele Pirro (Infineon Audi R8) 50 4. Frank Biela (Infineon Audi R8) 49 5. Andy Wallace (Audi R8) 42 6. Dorsey Schroeder (Audi R8) 41 7. Michele Alboreto (Infineon Audi R8) 31 Laurent Aiello (Infineon Audi R8) 31 9. Ralf Kelleners (Audi R8) 24 10. Guy Smith (Audi R8) 23 11. Stefan Johansson (Audi R8) 22
1. Audi 55 2. Panoz 36 3. Lola 20 4. Riley & Scott 19 5. Courage 18
Audi Season To Date:
Texas Qualify first and twenty-second Finish first and second Sebring Qualify first and second Finish first and second
- Kyle Chura