Donington qualifying report

14th April 2001 Donington Qualifying American Le Mans Series - Rd 3 / European Le Mans Series - Rd 1 Former British Touring Car ace Tom Kristensen used his track knowledge to good effect to take pole position for Audi at the opening European Le...

14th April 2001
Donington Qualifying
American Le Mans Series - Rd 3 / European Le Mans Series - Rd 1

Former British Touring Car ace Tom Kristensen used his track knowledge to good effect to take pole position for Audi at the opening European Le Mans series race at Donington today, but the new Chrysler prototype could be one to watch in tomorrow's race.

Kristensen stopped the clocks at 1:21.122 ahead of team-mate Frank Biela, but the new Chrysler was instantly competitive, qualifying in fourth position with Olivier Beretta behind the wheel.

Despite the strong debut, Beretta was actually disappointed not to split the Audis which filled the first three spots.

"I would have been nice to get amongst the Audis, but the new engine is performing better than we could have hoped and fourth position is fantastic for the team," Beretta said. He will share the car with Frenchman Yannick Dalmas.

The privateer Audi of Stefan Johansson and Guy Smith finished third fastest, but ended the session in the tyre barrier after a heavy crash.

The team is confident of repairing the car in time for tomorrow's race.

Having driven for Honda in the last year's British Touring Car Championship, Kristensen was selected to qualify the car as points leader Dindo Capello was making his debut at the famous British circuit.

"Obviously I am very delighted to have the pole position - the car was great," Kristensen said.

"I knew that I had to focus on Frank (Biela) who was on slightly different tyres compared to me.

"I got a little bit sideways in the first corner on my first lap. On my second run I had to pass two other cars, which disturbed me little bit, but I was still fast enough to get pole position."

Aussie David Brabham again endured a difficult day with gear-shift problems leaving his Panoz back in 7th spot.

"It was a bit frustrating out there this afternoon," Brabham said.

"We made a few changes to the paddle shift system before the session but had problems with it. There were not enough minutes left in the session to do a time which we think the car is capable of."

Class pole positions went to Martin O'Connell in the Pilbeam in the LMP675 divsion; British ace Oliver Gavin aboard the Saleen in GTS and Swede Fredrick Ekblom aboard a BMW in the GT class.

<pre> QUALIFYING - PROTOTYPE DIVISION 1. - Tom Kristenseon/Dindo Capello - Audi - 1:21.122 2. - Frank Biela/Emanuele Pirro - Audi - 1:21.281 - 3. - Stefan Johansson/Guy Smith - Audi - 1:21.687 - 4. - Olivier Beretta/Yannick Dalmas - Chrysler - 1:22.721 - 5. - Jean-Christophe Boullion/Laurent Redon - Courage - 1:23.899

PROTOTYPE 675 1. - Martin O'Connell/Carway - Pilbeam - 1:27.971

GTS DIVISION 1. - Oliver Gavin/Franz Konrad - Saleen - 1:28.000

GT DIVISION 1. - Fredrick Ekblom/Dirk Muller - Porsche GT3-R - 1:33.724

-Paul Ryan

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Series ALMS
Drivers Martin O'Connell , David Brabham , Stefan Johansson , Tom Kristensen , Dirk Müller , Franz Konrad , Guy Smith , Frank Biela , Yannick Dalmas , Laurent Redon , Oliver Gavin , Ryan Paul , Jean-Christophe Boullion , Olivier Beretta , Dindo Capello , Emanuele Pirro