David Brabham strikes trouble in qualifying

The BMW squad led by JJ Lehto and Jorg Muller bounced back to head the timesheets in the opening day of qualifying for round two of the Le Mans Series while Aussie star David Brabham faced a day of set-backs. Lehto stopped the clocks at 1...

The BMW squad led by JJ Lehto and Jorg Muller bounced back to head the timesheets in the opening day of qualifying for round two of the Le Mans Series while Aussie star David Brabham faced a day of set-backs.

Lehto stopped the clocks at 1 minute, 4.769 seconds aboard his BMW V12 LMR as Brabham and team-mate Jan Magnussen battled power steering problems aboard their Panoz LMP-1.

The problems kept Brabham's car back in fifth place, ahead of the sister Panoz car steered by Japanese driver Hiroki Katoh.

Katoh's partner Johnny O'Connell set the pace in private practice on Wednesday but was confined to bed with food poisioning during today's session.

Panoz test driver Klaus Graf has been placed on stand-by should O'Connell fail to recover in time for Saturday's race.

The Audi R8 of Round One Sebring winner Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro was second fastest ahead of the BMW of Bill Auberlen and Jean Marc Gounon.

"Qualifying was good for us, especially after we struggled with the set-up on the car at Sebring," JJ Lehto said.

"We went back there Monday and Tuesday to test and made progress, but we do still have some work to do here."

Brabham is hopeful the team will be able to solve the power steering dilemmas. "The power steering makes the car much easier to drive, especially up on the banking," Brabham said.

"It takes a while to get used to because the steering feels much lighter, but coming from the infield part of the course, up onto the banking is very tough without it.

"The steering wheel actually jumped out of Jan's (Magnussen) hands during qualifying as he came back on to the banking. You don't feel it at all when the power steering is working."

The GTS class was headed by the Dodge Viper GTS of Olivier Beretta and Karl Wendlinger while the Dirk Muller/Lucas Luhr Porsche 911 GT3R set the pace in the GT class.

Paul Ryan - ryan@panoz.com.au

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Series ALMS
Drivers David Brabham , Dirk Müller , Jan Magnussen , Frank Biela , Karl Wendlinger , Klaus Graf , Johnny O'Connell , Jorg Muller , Bill Auberlen , Ryan Paul , Hiroki Katoh , Jean-Marc Gounon , Olivier Beretta , Emanuele Pirro , JJ Lehto