Charlotte BMW fights off Panoz and Lola for pole

The BMW of JJ Lehto and Jorg Muller has again set the pace in final qualifying for round two of the Le Mans Series at Charlotte in the U.S. Lehto held the advantage from yesterday despite a renewed challenge from the Panoz squad as well as the...

The BMW of JJ Lehto and Jorg Muller has again set the pace in final qualifying for round two of the Le Mans Series at Charlotte in the U.S.

Lehto held the advantage from yesterday despite a renewed challenge from the Panoz squad as well as the privateer Lola of Domenico Schiattarella and Didier de Radigues.

Lehto stopped the clocks at 1:04.096 ahead of Jan Magnussen aboard the Panoz which he will share with Australia's David Brabham.

The Panoz team's dilemmas with power steering from yesterday were solved with Magnussen and Brabham enjoying a trouble free run.

The surprise of the day was the performance of the Lola of the privateer Rafanelli team. Schiattarella put the car in third spot on the grid, outpacing both Audis as well as one each of the Panoz and BMW team cars.

Lehto is confident he can maintain the advantage in tomorrow's 2 hour, 45 minute race.

"It will be flat-out from the first lap to the last and it will be up to the tires and pit stop tactics." Lehto said.

"We will see tomorrow who has the best set-up. Our team hasn't had the chance to run a full stint. The times are very tight, and we are expecting to see a close race."

Brabham is confident the Panoz squad has put its troubles behind it.

"It was great to have a trouble free run today and Jan did a great job in the qualifying session," Brabham said.

"Yesterday's power steering dramas put us behind the eight-ball, but the team has worked pretty hard to solve the problems.

"I am confident we should have another trouble free run tomorrow in the race."

The Dodge Viper squad continued their dominating performance with Olivier Beretta and Karl Wendlinger again setting the pace in the GTS class.

Australian-owned GT class team, Skea Racing, were forced to skip the final qualifying session with steering problems on both cars.

Dirk Muller and Lucas Luhr continued Porsche's dominance in the GT class. The duo clocked the fastest time with the Porsche GT3R machines filling the first four spots on the GT grid.

- Paul Ryanryan@panoz.com.au

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers David Brabham , Didier de Radigues , Dirk Müller , Jan Magnussen , Karl Wendlinger , Jorg Muller , Lucas Luhr , Ryan Paul , Domenico Schiattarella , JJ Lehto