Sears Point: Qualifying report

Kristensen wins Sears Point Pole for Champion Racing. SONOMA, Calif. (May 18, 2002) -- Tom Kristensen waited for the right opportunity and then nailed a flying lap to take the pole for Sunday's American Le Mans Series Grand Prix of Sonoma ...

Kristensen wins Sears Point Pole for Champion Racing.

SONOMA, Calif. (May 18, 2002) -- Tom Kristensen waited for the right opportunity and then nailed a flying lap to take the pole for Sunday's American Le Mans Series Grand Prix of Sonoma presented by Fosters at Sears Point Raceway.

Kristensen, on loan from the factory Audi team to privateer Champion Racing for this event, turned a lap of 1:22.615 (110.246 mph) on the 2.53-mile, 12-turn circuit, establishing a track record on the reconfigured circuit. His fast lap came after he drove slowly on the track for a few moments, waiting for traffic to clear during the 20-minute qualifying session.

Jon Field of Dublin, Ohio, won the pole for the LMP 675 class for smaller Prototypes with a fast lap of 1:25.319 in a Lola EX257-AER MG. The pole was Field's first in ALMS competition. He scored his first race win in March in the Sebring 12-hour event.

Ron Fellows of Canada won the pole for the GTS class in a Chevrolet Corvette C5-R, turning a lap of 1:31.582, taking his second pole in two ALMS races this year.

Kevin Buckler, whose Racers Group team is based at Sears Point, pulled a surprise by winning the pole for the GT class. The Novato, Calif., resident won his first career pole in the ALMS with a lap of 1:37.442 in a Porsche 911 GT3 RS.

"I normally like for my second flying lap to be the best one, but there was traffic," said Kristensen, from Denmark. "I took my time and the opportunity came."

Kristensen, though happy to win the pole, feels that his team and the factory team will be at a disadvantage in Sunday's two-hour, 45-minute event because both teams are using three drivers.

"We will have to make an extra driver change, and that will cost us some time," he said. "If some of the other cars with two drivers can stay close, they will have an advantage."

Kristensen will co-drive with Andy Wallace and with Johnny Herbert, assuming Herbert arrives at the track in time. The former Formula One star is attempting to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday and will travel to Sears Point by private jet in hope of driving the final stint in the race.

Defending ALMS champion Emanuele Pirro qualified second in the factory Audi at 1:22.967. He will co-drive with Frank Biela and Rinaldo Capello in the three-driver setup. The factory team, which normally runs two cars in ALMS races, elected to leave its 2002 spec cars in Europe for next month's 24 Hours of Le Mans and is running a single entry. So that all four factory drivers could earn points, Capello joined the Biela/Pirro team and Kristensen moved to Champion.

Sunday's race starts at 1 p.m. (PDT) and will be televised live by the SPEED Channel. Live coverage by the American Le Mans Series Radio Web can be heard online at www.imsaracing.net.

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Series ALMS
Drivers Andy Wallace , Johnny Herbert , Rinaldo Capello , Tom Kristensen , Frank Biela , Ron Fellows , Jon Field , Kevin Buckler , Emanuele Pirro