FORT WORTH-DALLAS (Aug. 31, 2000) -- Some of the world's best road racing drivers got their first look at the new infield road course at Texas Motor Speedway Thursday as teams began preparations for Saturday night's Grand Prix of Texas.
Reaction from American Le Mans Series drivers was positive after an unofficial day of testing on the 2.324-mile course that includes part of the 1.5-mile, high-banked superspeedway oval with a twisting, turning infield circuit.
"The circuit is going to produce a very good race," said Allan McNish of Scotland, winner of the last two ALMS races with co-driver Rinaldo Capello of Italy in an Audi R8. "There is a good mix of slow corners that exit onto long straights, and there are a couple of difficult areas to make it interesting."
Finnish driver J.J. Lehto, second in ALMS points, agreed with McNish. "The track design is very good," said the BMW V12 LMR driver. "The transition from onto the banking is good, and the chicanes are in a good position. I like it."
The ALMS cars will run a two-hour, 45-minute race Saturday night. Provisional qualifying will be held Friday, with final qualifying Saturday afternoon.
A second Audi co-driven by Monaco's Frank Biela and Emanuelo of Italy recorded the day's fastest lap of 112.455, just ahead of the 112.375 posted by the McNish/Capello duo. The Panoz LMP-1 co-driven by David Brabham of England and Jan Magnussen of Gainesville, Ga., was third at 111.304.
Olivier Beretta of Monaco and Karl Wendlinger of Austria, co-driving a Dodge Viper GTS-R, led ALMS GTS class testing over the Corvette of Ron Fellows of Canada and Andy Pilgrim of Cooper City, Fla. The fastest lap by the Dodge was 102.319, barely beating the 102.019 by the Corvette. The Porsche 911 GT3 R of co-drivers Dirk Muller and Lucas Luhr, both of Monaco, was fastest in the GT class at 98.479.
Sonya Bayer of Germany led testing Thursday for the Women's Global GT Series, which will run a 45-minute race on Sunday morning. Bayer, driving a Panoz Esperante, turned a fast lap of 81.637 mph.