WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Three-time Le Mans winner Frank Biela captured his third pole of the season this afternoon during qualifying for Sunday's American Le Mans Series Cadillac Grand Prix of Washington. After dueling back and forth with teammate ...
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Three-time Le Mans winner Frank Biela captured his third pole of the season this afternoon during qualifying for Sunday's American Le Mans Series Cadillac Grand Prix of Washington. After dueling back and forth with teammate Rinaldo Capello for the right to lead the 34-car field to the green flag in the first automobile race in the nation's capital in more than 80 years, Biela's Joest Racing Audi R8 vaulted to the top of the time sheets for the final time with less than a minute remaining in the 20-minute qualifying session. Biela lapped the tight 1.7-mile, 7-turn street circuit in 1 minute 3.287 seconds, .015 seconds ahead of Capello and points leader Tom Kristensen.
"Finally, the last lap was a good one and it was good enough," Biela said. "The car was good and the tires were consistent, but I wasn't worrying about the car -- just the traffic. During qualifying, my car was good, but not perfect. In two or three corners I had a little bit too much understeer. But it was still good enough for the pole, so I'm very satisfied."
Capello, however, wasn't the least bit satisfied with his qualifying effort after he scraped the Turn 3 wall trying keep up with Biela early in the session. "My last lap would definitely have been the fastest, but unfortunately I ran out of fuel."
Despite pre-race speculation that the tight configuration of the RFK Stadium parking lot venue would favor the torque generated by the powerful Panoz entries, Jan Magnussen and David Brabham could do no better than third on the grid, just ahead of the Champion Audi of Johnny Herbert and Stefan Johansson, which slid of the track as qualifying came to an end.
"Right at the end of the session, I went off in Turn 1," stated Herbert. "While I was braking for the corner, somehow the side of my foot went on to the accelerator and I ended up in the tire wall. The front bodywork is damaged, but nothing significant is broken."
The Cadillac of Max Angelelli and Christophe Tinseau survived a minor brush with the Turn 5 wall as well as slight contact with an LMP 675 car in Turn 3 to post the fifth fastest time of the day, followed by the second Panoz of Bryan Herta and Bill Auberlen qualified and the second Cadillac of Eric Bernard and Emmanuel Collard.
Although Jon Field's nimble MG-Lola managed to qualify first in LMP 675 and eighth overall, he may not be able to take the green flag tomorrow after an A-arm failure pitched the Ohio native into the Turn 1 wall near the end of qualifying. "Hopefully, we can fix the car for the race because Lola has no spares," Field said. Field hopes that Knighthawk Racing, whose MG-Lola posted the second fastest time in LMP 675, will loan him some parts. Ben Devlin and Will Langhorn qualified third in class.
After watching Terry Borcheller's Saleen S7R put together a couple of fast laps, Ron Fellows promptly went out and claimed his fifth GTS pole of the season in the factory-backed Corvette. "It took a while to get a clear lap and it was a bit of an adventure, but we managed to get it done," said Fellows, who will share the driving chores tomorrow with Johnny O'Connell. The Saleen ended up third in class, behind the second Corvette of Andy Pilgrim and Kelly Collins.
"We had the pole for a while, but then we developed a front vibration," explained Borcheller. "I came in and we changed to sticker tires, but lost some of the setup with the change. We could have been second."
Sascha Maassen led the way in the GT class in the Alex Job Racing Porsche GT3-RS. "We had a little less grip in the morning -- I think the track temperature came up. In the first lap, I had some mistakes because I was pushing too hard and the grip was not there. So on the second lap, I didn't attack the entrance [to the exits] so much and I got very good exits, and that was a good lap time." Maassen and co-driver Lucas Luhr will lead their teammates, Timo Bernhard and Jorg Bergmeister, to the green. Kevin Buckler's Racer's Group Porsche completed the top-three in GT.