Braselton, Georgia -- Audi did it again. For the sixth time in a row, the team took pole position in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS). During the second and final qualifying on Friday afternoon, no driver was able to beat the times Allan McNish...
Braselton, Georgia -- Audi did it again. For the sixth time in a row, the team took pole position in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS). During the second and final qualifying on Friday afternoon, no driver was able to beat the times Allan McNish and Emanuele Pirro set during the first session on Thursday. The Audi R8s conquered the complete first row on the grid for the third time in as many qualifying sessions.
The "Petit Le Mans" begins on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. and finishes after ten hours or 1000 miles, whichever comes first. Strengthening the Audi crew at Road Atlanta are Michele Alboreto and Tom Kristensen. The Dane rejoins Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro, forming the team that won both Sebring and Le Mans. Alboreto teams up with Rinaldo Capello and Allan McNish. Allan McNish (#77) and Emanuele Pirro (#78) will start the race in the two Audi R8s.
Quotes after final qualifying:
Michele Alboreto (#77): "For me it is a good feeling to race again. I did quite a lot of testing during the summer, but racing is another story. I am pleased to be back. The car looks very good, and the team prepares the car as usual in the best way. It is just up to the drivers not to make a mistake and bring the car home safely."
Rinaldo Capello (#77): "Everything is going well for us; our car took the third pole position in a row. I liked the track from the very first moment, and we were able to improve the car every day. I think we are in a very good position for the race. This pole position is the first step towards victory."
Allan McNish (#77): "The circuit was a little bit slower than yesterday, but I was able to do almost the same time. I think the race is going to be a very hard one. But we are prepared, we have a good car and a good team, and the drivers are confident."
Frank Biela (#78): "For this endurance race our position on the grid is quite okay. It is much more important that our car is working perfectly during the race and is consistent and runs good lap times the whole race. We worked on that a lot during practice, and our long runs also worked out fine, so I'm very optimistic for tomorrow."
Tom Kristensen (#78): "After the successes at Sebring and Le Mans, it is great to be back with the team to race the "Petit Le Mans," which is a very famous event. Although it's my first time at Road Atlanta, I already did quite a lot of laps. We have a perfect car, and the circuit is very exciting with all its ups and downs and blind corners. You need a lot of confidence in the car and of course in yourself."
Emanuele Pirro (#78): "I'm disappointed because I was very confident this morning and had a good feeling with the car. This afternoon there was a lot of wind, but we had a low down force configuration, so the car was much more difficult to drive. I tried everything I could, but it didn't work. Now my plan for the start is clear: Go into the lead and win the race."
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, Head of Audi Sport: "We are in a very good position, having both cars on the front row of this important race. We found a good race set-up, but we have to be careful in the first couple of laps. We have to make a good start and try to get a little gap with constent fast lap times. Should the Panoz get in front, they are very difficult to pass. And of course, the work in the pits will be very important."
Reinhold Joest, Team Director, Audi Sport North America: "Even if we have both cars in the first row, I don't take this success for granted. Everybody saw how fast the Panoz team is and how strong their performance was today. Our drivers are very satisfied with the race configuration of the cars, so we won't change a lot before the start. I'm sure we will see a very exciting race."
<pre> The starting grid at Road Atlanta: 1. Alboreto/Capello/McNish (Audi R8) 1:10.379 2. Biela/Kristensen/Pirro (Audi R8) 1:10.713 3. Brabham/Magnussen (Panoz) 1:10.875 4. Lehto/Müller (BMW) 1:11.438 5. O`Connell/Katoh/Graf (Panoz) 1:12.060 6. Auberlen/Gounon (BMW) 1:12.107 7. Schiattarella/de Radigues/Simon (Panoz) 1:12.477 8. Tinseau/Goossens (Cadillac) 1:13.374 9. Bernard/Collard (Cadillac) 1:13.562 10. Angelelli/Taylor/van de Poele (Cadillac) 1:13.909
</pre> The Petit Le Mans Presented by Audi will be televised live on Speedvision starting at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.