ADELAIDE, Australia (December 30, 2000) -- Allan McNish's car is on the pole for Sunday's American Le Mans Series season finale, but the driver who has dominated the sports car endurance racing series this season may not see any action in the Race of a Thousand Years on the Adelaide street circuit and could lose the series title in the process.
McNish injured his back during a photo shoot in Scotland last week, and then reinjured it when he arrived in Adelaide. He drove only a handful of laps in practice on Friday and had to get out of the car and visit a local hospital because of the pain. He was not at the circuit on Saturday when teammate Rinaldo Capello qualified the car on the pole for the six-hour race on the 2.4-mile track.
The Audi team has recruited Australian touring car champion Brad Jones as a third driver of the car for the race. McNish is nominated to start the car, but his participation will be a race-time decision. He only has to complete 25 laps in the race to win the title.
Capello, who could overtake McNish in the championship battle if McNish doesn't race on Sunday, was the fastest in qualifying with a lap of 100.950 mph (1:23.804). Emanuele Pirro created an all-Audi front row with a lap of 100.740 in a car he will share with Frank Biela.
Olivier Beretta , who will clinch the ALMS GTS title in the race, qualified a Chrysler Viper fastest in the GTS class. Beretta will share the car with Karl Wendlinger and Dominique Dupuy.
Lucas Luhr qualified a Porsche 911 GT3 R fastest in the GT class and will co-drive with Dirk Muller . The car suffered damage in a crash in the final practice Saturday afternoon, but the team was expected to be able to repair the car in time for the race. Muller is involved in a close three-way battle for the GT class title with Bob Wollek and Sascha Maassen.
Twenty-five cars will start the race, and organizers are expecting a crowd of more than 130,000 for the first international event on the circuit since the last Formula One race five years ago.