Laguna Seca qualifying report

MONTEREY, Calif. (September 8, 2001) -- Rinaldo Capello won the pole position Saturday for Sunday's American Le Mans Series Monterey Sports Car Championships event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca as Audi R8 machines swept the top three qualifying ...

MONTEREY, Calif. (September 8, 2001) -- Rinaldo Capello won the pole position Saturday for Sunday's American Le Mans Series Monterey Sports Car Championships event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca as Audi R8 machines swept the top three qualifying positions.

Capello, who is tied for the ALMS series point lead with teammate Tom Kristensen, will lead a 29-car field in the two-hour, 45-minute sports car endurance race on the 2.258-mile track.

"It took almost the entire session to get grip in the tires," said Capello, whose qualifying speed of 107.084 (1:15.238) mph fell short of his track record 107.384 from last year. "The 20 minutes went by quickly and it was at the end before we could run fast."

Capello looks forward to the race, when he and Kristensen will try to rebound from three races of bad luck. "We have to win again," he said. "We had a bad month of August, and we have to come back in a good way for the team and for the drivers."

Former Formula One star Stefan Johansson qualified second-fastest in an Audi he will share with Patrick Lemarie, while the third spot was taken by the Audi of Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro. Jan Magnussen and David Brabham, who have won two of the last three ALMS races, will start fourth in a Panoz LMP-1.

Didier de Radigues took the pole position for the LMP 675 class in a Reynard 01Q-Judd, beating the team car driven by Scott Maxwell by only 3/100ths second. De Radigues, who has already clinched the class championship for 2001, turned a lap of 101.081 mph (1:19.706) in a car he will co-drive with Milka Duno on Sunday.

"I wasn't expecting him (Maxwell) to be so close," he said. "It's good to have two cars competitive. We run two different setups, and I was on a more conventional setup."

Terry Borcheller won his fourth pole in the last five races in the GTS class, driving a Saleen S7R he will share with Franz Konrad to a class-record lap of 97.086 mph (1:22.986) on his final lap of the session. That knocked the Chevrolet Corvette C5-R of series point leader Ron Fellows off of the pole.

"Ron put a great lap down," said Borcheller, who has won the pole every time he has qualified the car this season. "I knew I had more in the car, then when Ron went faster, I thought 'here we go.' Taking the pole on the last lap was unique and very exciting, almost like winning a race." JJ Lehto, who has won three of the last four races with co-driver Jorg Muller, took the GT class pole in a BMW M3 GTR with a track record lap of 93.396 (1:26.265).

"It was one of those laps and it worked out," said the Finnish driver. "I pushed a little and it was good enough. We struggled yesterday with the setup, but the crew did some hard work and it paid off."

The race, which starts at noon local time, will be televised live in the United States by NBC Sports beginning at 4 p.m. (EDT). Live coverage by the American Le Mans Series Radio Web can be heard online at www.americanlemans.com.

-ALMS

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Series ALMS
Drivers Milka Duno , David Brabham , Stefan Johansson , Rinaldo Capello , Didier de Radigues , Jan Magnussen , Franz Konrad , Frank Biela , Patrick Lemarié , Ron Fellows , Scott Maxwell , Terry Borcheller , Emanuele Pirro , JJ Lehto