Laguna Seca Audi topple Panoz in pole fight

Audi star Rinaldo Capello fought back to topple Panoz driver Jan Magnussen to grab pole position in final qualifying for round ten of the Le Mans Series at Laguna Seca overnight. Both Capello and David Brabham's team-mate Magnussen improved on...

Audi star Rinaldo Capello fought back to topple Panoz driver Jan Magnussen to grab pole position in final qualifying for round ten of the Le Mans Series at Laguna Seca overnight.

Both Capello and David Brabham's team-mate Magnussen improved on their times from Friday, but the Audi star clinched the pole with a lap only .119 of a second faster than the Panoz.

The pair were the only drivers from the top echelon to improved their qualifying times yesterday.

Although the driver's title is expected to go down to the wire in Adelaide, should one of the two Audi R8 sportscars cross the finish line in the first four places ahead of the BMW and Panoz, then Team Audi Sport North America secures the ALMS manufacturer´s title two rounds before the end of the season.

"It was a great battle for pole position and the important thing is that we are in front," Capello said.

"We won the fight for pole and we hope to win tomorrow as well. The car improved a lot, I am now very confident for the race.

"It would have even been possible to go faster, but I lost half a second behind a slower car."

The Audi of Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro and the BMW of Jorg Muller and JJ Lehto will form the second row of the grid.

Ron Fellows and Andy Pilgrim retained their pole position in the GTS class in a Corvette C5-R, as did GT class leaders Sascha Maassen of Germany and Bob Wollek of France in a Porsche 911 GT3 R.

Zak Brown suffered a back sprain when his Porsche impacted a retaining wall in turn seven during qualifying. He was examined and released from the track's care center.

The 2 hour and 45 minute race will be staged on Sunday (local time) and kicks off at 4.30am Adelaide time on Monday, October 16.

Following Laguna Seca, the teams will contest the next round of the championship at Las Vegas before beginning preparations for the final round of the championship in Adelaide from December 29-31.

<pre> QUALIFYING - PROTOTYPE DIVISION 1. - Rinaldo Capello/Alan McNish - Audi - 1:15.028 2. - Jan Magnussen/David Brabham - Panoz - 1:15.147 3. - Frank Biela/Emanuele Pirro - Audi - 1:15.823 4. - JJ Lehto/Jorg Muller - BMW - 1:16.037 5. - Johnny O'Connell/Hiroki Katoh - Panoz - 1:16.213 GTS DIVISION 1. - Ron Fellows/Andy Pilgrim - Chevrolet Corvette - 1:23.926 GT DIVISION 1. - Sascha Maassen/Bob Wollek - Porsche GT3-R - 1:27.411

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Series ALMS
Drivers David Brabham , Rinaldo Capello , Jan Magnussen , Frank Biela , Ron Fellows , Johnny O'Connell , Andy Pilgrim , Jorg Muller , Sascha Maassen , Hiroki Katoh , Bob Wollek , Zak Brown , Emanuele Pirro , JJ Lehto