McNish looms as Texas tom gun

Scotland's Alan McNish did battle with his Le Mans Series opposition and the searing Texas heat to come out on top after opening qualifying for round seven of the championship at Texas Motor Speedway overnight. The winner of the past two races...

Scotland's Alan McNish did battle with his Le Mans Series opposition and the searing Texas heat to come out on top after opening qualifying for round seven of the championship at Texas Motor Speedway overnight.

The winner of the past two races with Italian Rinaldo Capello, McNish stopped the clocks at 1:13.242 for the combined oval-road course being used this weekend.

Team-mates Frank Biela/Emanuele Pirro and the lead Panoz of Jan Magnussen and Australian star David Brabham were also in the 1 minute 13 second range.

McNish was pleased with the result, but concerned as to how the 40+ degree (celsius) heat will affect the track surface.

"We came here a little unsure of what it would be like because we had never raced on an oval track/road course with this particular chassis," McNish said.

"The track surface seems to be holding together pretty well. But if you go near the edge of the track, the aerodynamic effect of the cars sucks dust up on the track.

"I'm very happy that I'm in an open car instead of a closed car. It's relatively comfortable, but I feel sorry for the guys in the closed cars."

Taking on the qualifying duties for the weekend, Magnussen enjoyed the Texas oval-road course layout.

"I'm pretty pleased with what we did this afternoon," Magnussen said.

"The track is much more slippery than it was this morning but it's fun using the banking and the car seems good. We've got a bit more we can do tomorrow so I'm looking forward to it - despite the heat!"

The dominance of the Dodge Vipers in the GTS class against looks under threat with Ron Fellows capturing provision pole in the Chevrolet Corvette he is sharing with Andy Pilgrim.

The Canadian/U.S. pairing was nearly one second faster than the regular pacesetters, Viper stars Olivier Beretta and Karl Wendlinger.

After a disastrous weekend at the last round at Mosport, the Dick Barbour Racing Porsche GT3-Rs set the pace in the GT division with Dirk Muller and Lucas Luhr topping the timesheet.

Final qualifying will be staged tomorrow. The Saturday night race begins at 9.30am (Adelaide time) on Sunday morning.

<pre> QUALIFYING - PROTOTYPE DIVISION 1. - Alan McNish/Rinaldo Capello - Audi - 1:13.242 2. - Frank Biela/Emanuele Pirro - Audi - 1:13.481 3. - Jan Magnussen/David Brabham - Panoz - 1:13.923 4. - JJ Lehto/Jorg Muller - BMW - 1:14.586 5 - Johnny O'Connell/Hiroki Katoh - Panoz - 1:15.590 GTS DIVISION 1. - Ron Fellows/Andy Pilgrim - Chevrolet Corvette - 1:20.614 GT DIVISION 1. - Dirk Muller/Lucas Luhr - Porsche GT3-R - 1:24.872

-Paul Ryan

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Series ALMS
Drivers David Brabham , Rinaldo Capello , Dirk Müller , Jan Magnussen , Frank Biela , Karl Wendlinger , Ron Fellows , Johnny O'Connell , Andy Pilgrim , Jorg Muller , Lucas Luhr , Ryan Paul , Dick Barbour , Olivier Beretta , Emanuele Pirro , JJ Lehto , Hiroki Katoh