Petit Le Mans qualifying report

BRASELTON, Ga. (October 5, 2001) -- After winning the pole position for the American Le Mans Series Audi presents Petit Le Mans on Friday, Tom Kristensen predicted a brutal and difficult 1,000-mile sports car endurance race Saturday at...

BRASELTON, Ga. (October 5, 2001) -- After winning the pole position for the American Le Mans Series Audi presents Petit Le Mans on Friday, Tom Kristensen predicted a brutal and difficult 1,000-mile sports car endurance race Saturday at Road Atlanta. "There are so many cars, and there will be so much traffic and many yellows," said the Danish driver, who turned the 2.54-mile circuit at a non-record speed of 128.939 mph in an Audi R8 Prototype that he will share with Rinaldo Capello. Forty-one cars will start the race, which will last nearly 10 hours and will run well past darkness. Kristensen and Capello each still have a chance of winning the ALMS driver's championship in the season finale, though Audi teammate Emanuele Pirro leads the standings. "We're going to do what we have done all season, which is go for the race win," said Kristensen, who teamed with Capello for two victories in the seven ALMS races run this season. The pole was his second of the season. Pirro qualified second in the Audi he will co-drive with Frank Biela, turning a lap of 128.769, while David Brabham was third at 128.678 in a Panoz LMP-1 he will share with Jan Magnussen. Didier de Radigues, who has already clinched the championship of the LMP 675 class for smaller Prototypes, was the fastest at 122.608 in a Reynard 01Q-Judd. He will co-drive with Bruno Lambert and Earl Goddard and feels that the smaller, lighter car could challenge for the overall win in the long-distance event. "We were sixth at Le Mans this year before we had problems, and we've been looking forward to this event," he said. Corvette driver Andy Pilgrim was the fastest qualifier in the GTS class, turning a lap of 115.814 mph in a car he will share with Kelly Collins and Franck Freon. Pilgrim won the GTS class in the Petit Le Mans for Corvette last year with a daring last-lap pass, a maneuver that earned him a congratulatory note from the late Dale Earnhardt. While Pilgrim was elated, Corvette teammate Ron Fellows was disgusted after losing the drivetrain on his car only moments into the qualifying session. He leads the GTS point standings, but needs to finish at least fourth in the race to beat closest challenger Terry Borcheller. JJ Lehto drove a rebuilt BMW M3 GTR to a lap of 110.697 mph to win the pole for the GT class. The car suffered heavy damage during night practice on Thursday when Lehto tangled with a slower car and slammed into a tire barrier. "The crew worked almost all night and they did a fantastic job," said the former Formula One driver. "Because of the traffic and the track conditions, I only got one fast lap, but it was fast enough."

-ALMS-

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Series ALMS
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , David Brabham , Rinaldo Capello , Didier de Radigues , Jan Magnussen , Bruno Lambert , Ron Fellows , Franck Freon , Andy Pilgrim , Terry Borcheller , Earl Goddard , JJ Lehto