Portland, Oregon -- For the first time in almost 15 months there is not an Audi at the front of the starting grid. After a thrilling qualifying session for round four of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) Rinaldo Capello and Tom Kristensen had to...
Portland, Oregon -- For the first time in almost 15 months there is not an Audi at the front of the starting grid. After a thrilling qualifying session for round four of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) Rinaldo Capello and Tom Kristensen had to relinquish pole position to a Panoz. Teammates Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro in the companion Infineon Audi R8 will start the race from third place.
During the 20-minute qualifying session the Audi pilots drove their R8 sportscars hard in an attempt to keep their streak of pole positions in tact. In the end the downforce of the Panoz proved difficult to beat around the 1.94-mile PIR circuit. The Audi Sport North America team not only fought against the two Panoz cars, but also against the Champion Audi R8 of Andy Wallace and Johnny Herbert. Herbert, the former Formula 1 driver, qualified in fifth position for Sunday's race.
Round four of the American Le Mans Series at Portland starts on Sunday at 3:00 p.m. EDT, Tom Kristensen (#1) and Frank Biela (#2) will start the race in the two Infineon Audi R8s.
Quotes after qualifying Rinaldo Capello (#1): "Concerning our tire choice, we were a little bit conservative in qualifying. We knew we would not be that strong in this session because we wanted to work mainly for the race tomorrow."
Tom Kristensen (#1): "Of course it's a little bit disappointing to be so close to pole and then have to start only from second position. I did my very best and so I have to give my compliments to Panoz - today they were simply faster. Best thing would be to get into the lead right at the start, but that is a very difficult goal."
Frank Biela (#2): "After all the great races we had, second row is a very unusual starting position for me. The strong performance of the Panoz team impresses me a lot. So I think this will be one of the closest races this year."
Emanuele Pirro (#2): "Today was a difficult day for us because we had to change a lot of little things on the car. For qualifying it was better, so I'm very confident for the race. I would have preferred to be on pole. Of course we still have all chances but a better grid position would have made it much easier."
Johnny Herbert (#38): "We need a little more bite in the front end. We have been working hard on the car since yesterday and it has gotten progressively better. We were attacking the track hard, we have some ideas to try in the warm-up so we can be maybe a little better for the race."
Andy Wallace (#38): "Johnny put in a good effort, it is the fastest that we have gone all weekend. The Panoz is impressive, they seem to have the right package for this track. The front five cars are separated by a second, so we should be in for a good battle. We still have some work to do on the car for the race, so we hope to be better tomorrow."
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich, Head of Audi Sport: "After qualifying we have the best conditions for a really thrilling race. We have to be very careful at the start because otherwise there could be two Panoz the team. Every second we gain in the pits will decide positions."
Reinhold Joest, Team Director Audi Sport North America: "The track is exactly as we had expected it to be: Since Friday the circuit conditions changed again and again and so it's very difficult to find a perfect setup for the car. We are just slightly behind, but it's enough to not be on pole position. I'm sure we will see an exciting race tomorrow."
Audi Driver Line-up:
#1 Infineon Audi R8 Rinaldo Capello and Tom Kristensen
#2 Infineon Audi R8 Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro
#38 Champion Audi R8 Johnny Herbert and Andy Wallace