Biela, Pirro return to top of Texas chart as practice opens

FORT WORTH, Tex. (March 2, 2001) -- Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro picked up where they left off at Texas Motor Speedway Friday as practice started for Sunday's American Le Mans Series Leather Center Grand Prix of Texas. Biela and...

FORT WORTH, Tex. (March 2, 2001) -- Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro picked up where they left off at Texas Motor Speedway Friday as practice started for Sunday's American Le Mans Series Leather Center Grand Prix of Texas. Biela and Pirro were the winners of last September's inaugural ALMS event on the 2.324-mile Texas circuit, and the Audi R8 Prototype drivers set the fastest lap of the day as teams spent Friday in unofficial testing. Biela was at the wheel when the car turned a lap of 111.800 mph (1:14.833 seconds), fastest of the cars that were timed on Friday. "Having raced here last year, we are able to get the car set up right away, and then fine tune," said Biela. "However, the weather is a factor." Teams practiced under cloudy skies with temperatures in the high 50's. Second fastest on Friday was the privately-entered Audi R8 co-driven by Dorsey Schroeder and Andy Wallace, turning a fast lap of 110.833 mph (1:15.486). The Dave Maraj-owned Champion team is the first non-factory effort with the Audi R8 that dominated the ALMS last year. The second factory Audi, co-driven by Rinaldo Capello and Tom Kristensen, was third-fastest at 107.638 mph (1:17.727). Capello arrived late in Texas after having been delayed more than eight hours because of a snowstorm in Italy. The Chevrolet Corvette C5-R co-driven by Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell was the fastest in the GTS class with a lap of 102.821 mph (1:21.336). Fellows was one of the drivers when Corvette scored its first-ever ALMS win in last year's event at Texas. The fastest car in the GT class was the Porsche 911 GT3 RS co-driven by Lucas Luhr and Sascha Maassen at 99.190 mph (1:24.347). Because Friday's practice was unofficial, several cars ran without timing transponders, including two Prototypes fielded by the Panoz team and the two Kelly-Moss Racing GT machines. Official practice will begin Saturday, with qualifying sessions to be held Saturday afternoon. Sunday's two-hour, 45-minute race starts at 1 p.m. (CST) and will be televised live on Speedvision. The American Le Mans Series Radio Web will have live coverage online at www.americanlemans.com.

- Andy Hall

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Series ALMS
Drivers Andy Wallace , Rinaldo Capello , Frank Biela , Ron Fellows , Sascha Maassen , Lucas Luhr , Dorsey Schroeder , Dave Maraj , Emanuele Pirro