Derby, Great Britain -- Audi came closer to its fist victory in a European round of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) by taking the first three positions on the starting grid at Donington Park after finishing third at Silverstone and Nurburgring last year.
Tom Kristensen put the number one Infineon Audi R8 on pole at Donington. Photo: Audi Sport N.A.
Stefan Johansson qualified a strong third in his customer Audi R8 holding off the new Chrysler on its debut weekend. Despite the Swede crashing his car at the end of the qualifying session, he will be able to start the race on Saturday. Tom Kristensen and Frank Biela are nominated as the starting drivers in the two Infineon Audi R8 sportscars.
Quotes after qualifying: Rinaldo Capello (#1): "The track is new for me and therefore it is not easy. But I like this kind of circuit much more than the ovals with the infields. I learned the track quite quickly and I am confident for the race. When I get into the car I can push without a big problem."
Tom Kristensen (#1): "Obviously I am very delighted to have the pole position. The car was great. I knew that I had to focus on Frank who was on slightly different tyres compared to me. I got a little bit sideways in the first corner on my first lap. On my second run I had to pass two other cars, which disturbed me little bit, but I was still fast enough to get pole position."
Frank Biela (#2): "I am quite happy with the result. The car had different reactions in left hand and right hand corners during the free practice sessions. We managed to get it right for the qualifying. The car had a little bit of understeer, but we can work on this for the race."
Emanuele Pirro (#2): "I was never happier for a second position in this championship than today. We had a really hard time before qualifying. There was a problem with the car that we finally found just before qualifying. Now the car is okay, but we still have to improve. I am as optimistic as ever."
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich, Head of Audi Sport: "Qualifying went well for us, we look good for the race. Our cars are very close together and I am happy as well that Stefan Johansson is so strong with the customer R8. The new Chrysler was competitive from the very first moment. I am convinced that this car will be a strong competitor. I have always said that we can never relax."
Reinhold Joest, Team Director Audi Sport North America: "Both driver crews are content. This means the engineers once more have done a great job as we are driving at Donington for the first time. We are well prepared and have a good chance to be fast in the race."
<pre> Starting grid at Donington: 1. Capello/Kristensen (Infineon Audi R8) 1m 21.122s 2. Biela/Pirro (Infineon Audi R8) 1m 21.281s 3. Johansson/Smith (Audi R8) 1m 21.687s 4. Dalmas/Beretta (Chrysler) 1m 22.721s 5. Boullion/Redon (Courage-Peugeot) 1m 23.899s 6. Collins/Lupberger (Ascari) 1m 24.117s 7. Brabham/Magnussen (Panoz) 1m 24.817s 8. Cochran/Boss (Panoz) 1m 26.242s 9. Graf/Salles (Panoz) 1m 27.329s 10. O'Connell/Carway (Pilbeam) 1m 27.971s
</pre> The race will be televised on NBC starting at 4:00 p.m. Saturday.
Audi Season To Date: Texas Qualify first and twenty-second Finish first and second Sebring Qualify first and second Finish first and second Donington Qualify first and second