ELKHART LAKE, Wis. -- Four-time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen needed just three hot laps near the end of today's 20-minute qualifying session to capture the pole for the Road American 500 at Elkhart Lake. "I wanted to go back out with 12 or 13 ...
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. -- Four-time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen needed just three hot laps near the end of today's 20-minute qualifying session to capture the pole for the Road American 500 at Elkhart Lake. "I wanted to go back out with 12 or 13 minutes to go and run on the limit of the circuit," explained the veteran Audi driver, who waited for corner workers to clean up oil that had been put down by an LMP 675 car before taking to the track for his hot laps. "I had fresh tires when I went back in, and I went to the front of the queue. Going into Turn 2, I was amazed to see how well the officials had swept the dust [from the oil dry] away. Then I turned a lap pretty fast. The first time I was running really low fuel [in the car], and the car just [stuck] to the ground. The whole lap was good. The car was fantastic."
The No. 2 Audi of Emanuele Pirro qualified second, followed by the Panoz of Jan Magnussen and Bryan Herta.
The MG Lola of Jon Field qualified fifth overall and first in LMP 675. "We lost an earlier session so we were behind the eight ball," stated Field, who actually topped the time charts for a while. "We have been struggling, the engine was missing. All during qualifying we were down on power. It's an ongoing heat related problem since these cars were designed for Le Mans."
For the fourth time this season, the No. 3 Corvette C5R of Ron Fellows set the pace in the GTS class. In doing so, Fellows claimed the 11th ALMS pole of his career, surpassing the total amassed by Olivier Berretta behind the wheel of the Chrysler Viper. "We weren't the fastest in practice today," said Fellows. "The engineers looked at the data and calculated what we needed to make it faster, and they did. The track had quite a bit of grip, I was really quite surprised. The Corvette was perfect, I have no complaints. The track was really very good. It was the best it had been this weekend."
Andy Pilgrim, who qualified less than a second behind Fellows, will start second in the No. 4 Corvette. "The car had a bit of a push, but we set up the car for the race rather than qualifying," explained Pilgrim. "This will be the third race for our new cars. The cars are a little bit lighter, better handling, [and] just plain better." The Konrad Racing Saleen S7R of Terry Borcheller qualified third, followed by the Ferrari 550 Maranello of Emanuelle Naspetti.
In the ultra-competitive GT class, Lucas Luhr, who tangled with former teammate Randy Pobst last weekend at Mid-Ohio, needed only one flying lap to capture his first pole of the season and the fifth of his career in the No. 23 Alex Job Porsche. "It's my first time here and I really like the course," stated Luhr. "It looked like the other competitors came closer to us -- the Alex Job team. We had a great race at Mid-Ohio with four or five cars. I think this race here will be tough. We can't push as hard here as we did at Mid-Ohio because this is a much longer race and we'll have to save the tires more, so it should be a very interesting race." Luhr's pole also moved him one point closer to co-driver Sascha Maassen in the GT class driver's standings.
Luhr's teammate, Jorg Bergmeister, qualified second in the No. 22 Alex Job Racing Porsche. "We missed half of the practice [this morning] with a gearbox problem, so the car does not have an excellent setup," stated Bergmeister. "But it's a long race and we can improve." Former Alex Job pilot Randy Pobst will start third in the No. 31 Petersen Motorsports Porsche. "The Porsches seem to like this track," Pobst admitted after qualifying. "The car has been reluctant to turn but the crew has been working full speed ahead adjusting the chassis."