11th APRIL 2001 DONNINGTON PREVIEW AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES - RD 3 / EUROPEAN LE MANS SERIES - RD 1 CAPELLO FACES DONNINGTON FOR FIRST TIME IN EURO SERIES OPENER by Paul Ryan American Le Mans Series points leader Dindo Capello will headline a...
11th APRIL 2001
AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES - RD 3 / EUROPEAN LE MANS SERIES - RD 1
CAPELLO FACES DONNINGTON FOR FIRST TIME IN EURO SERIES OPENER
by Paul Ryan
American Le Mans Series points leader Dindo Capello will headline a 28 car field for the opening European race of the 2001 calendar this weekend.
But while his Audi team-mates have all raced at the historic Donnington circuit before, Capello will not have long to show he is no "easter bunny" at the British race.
"As opposed to my team mates, I've never raced in Donington," Capello said.
"So, I'll have to learn the circuit really quickly, especially considering that we have very little time to practice. At least I have Tom (Kristensen)to give me some tips."
Like Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro - Capello's team-mate Tom Kristensen knows this demanding track inside out from his time in British touring cars.
"Circuit knowledge is a real advantage," claims Frank Biela who won five races on the Donington track during his touring car career with Audi.
"On the other hand, we saw in Adelaide that the top pilots can adapt quickly to any track."
The opening two rounds of the new European Le Mans Series can be used by U.S. competitors to substitute bad point scoring outings in the eight American races.
While Audi dominated proceedings at Sebring, the Panoz squad will be looking to repeat its strong opening round from Texas where Australian David Brabham and Jan Magnussen led late in the event.
"I am really looking forward to going there again as it's a great circuit," Jan Magnussen said.
"We are not sure yet how the new car will be, but are much more confident of repeating how things went at Texas rather than Sebring!
"The Panoz LMP 07 certainly doesn't like the bumps so it's an immediate advantage that Donington has a smooth track surface.
"It's can be quite difficult to find a quick set up there so that presents a challenge - particularly in the very fast Craner Curves/Old Hairpin section - but if you get it right it's spectacular to watch."
The Donnington field has been boosted by the debut of the new Chrysler prototype with multiple Le Mans winner Yannick Dalmas joined by former Viper ace, Olivier Beretta.
The British Ascari marque will make its debut with a two-car entry while a strong LMP-675 field has been entered for the event. These lighter, yet less powerful prototypes are headlined by the two-car Dick Barbour team which features Didier de Radigues, Eric Van de Poole, John Graham and female racer Milka Duno.
The Donnington race kicks off at 10.10pm (Eastern Standard Time) on Saturday night.