McNish, Audi Set Overall Record at Sears Point

SONOMA, Calif. (July 22, 2000) - Allan McNish of Scotland bested his own track record Saturday with the fastest lap in the history of Sears Point Raceway, driving an Audi R8 to the pole position for the American Le Mans Series Grand Prix of...

SONOMA, Calif. (July 22, 2000) - Allan McNish of Scotland bested his own track record Saturday with the fastest lap in the history of Sears Point Raceway, driving an Audi R8 to the pole position for the American Le Mans Series Grand Prix of Sonoma with a lap at an average speed of 112.440 mph. McNish's lap in the Audi prototype sports car, which won both the 12 Hours at Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, was the fastest in the history of the track, which opened in 1968. McNish clocked in at 1 minute, 20.683 seconds. Emanuele Pirro of Italy put Audi's second entry on the front row with a lap at 111.687 mph. The Audis will be followed by the two Panoz LMP-1s, qualified by David Brabham of Australia at 111.163 mph and Johnny O'Connell of Flowery Branch, Ga., at 110.302 mph. The privateer Rafanelli machine driven by Monaco's Mimmo Schiattarella was fifth at 109.670 mph, followed by Finland's J.J. Lehto, who held the prior Sears Point record set in 1999, at 109.057 mph in a BMW V12 LMR. McNish will be teamed with Rinaldo Capello of Italy in the lead Audi and Pirro and Frank Biela of Monaco, who teamed with Denmark's Tom Kristensen to win the historic Le Mans race last month, will handle the second. McNish's lap was nearly 1.5 seconds better than the track mark he set on Friday. He did it on his second flying lap after qualifying opened. "The setup wasn't a lot different than yesterday," McNish said. "The circuit is faster, approximately eight tenths of a second because of the grip that has gone down in the last 24 hours. I wanted to be the first car out for qualifying because I wanted to be sure the track was clear (of debris). From the championship view, I needed to be in the first row. It's good that BMW is not right behind us."

McNish added: "This is one of the last true driver's tracks in the world and that makes me even more proud to be on the pole here, plus have the overall record." Karl Wendlinger of Austria, who has teamed with defending Le Mans Series GTS driver champion Olivier Beretta of Monaco to win the first four rounds of the 2000 series, put a Dodge Viper in the No. 1 starting spot in that division. Wendlinger recorded a lap of 98.846 miles per hour. Dirk Muller of Monaco, teamed with Lucas Luhr of Monaco, got his fourth straight Le Mans Series GT pole with a speed of 94.789 mph in a Porsche 911 GT3 R. Formula One veteran Hans Stuck put a BMW M3 in the second spot at 94.753 mph.

Twenty-eight of the 29 cars spanning the three classes has improved clockings from Friday's opening qualifying round.


Starting line-up for Sunday's American Le Mans Series Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sears Point Raceway, showing starting position, drivers, hometown or country, car and average speed:

<pre> 1. Allan McNish, Scotland; Rinaldo Capello, Italy, Audi R8, 112.440 miles per hour, track record, beat mark of 110.626 set by McNish Friday. 2. Emanuele Pirro, Italy; Frank Biela, Monaco, Audi R8, 111.687. 3. David Brabham, England; Jan Magnussen, Denmark, Panoz LMP-1, 111.163 4. Johnny O'Connell, Flowery Branch, Ga.; Hiroki Katoh, Japan, Panoz LMP-1, 110.302. 5. Mimmo Schiattarella, Monaco; Didier de Radigues, Monaco, Lola B2K, 109.870 6. J.J. Lehto, Finland; Jorg Muller, Monaco, BMW V12 LMR, 109.057. 7. Stefan Johansson, Indianapolis; Guy Smith, England, Reynard 2KQ, 108.531. 8. Bill Auberlen, Redondo Beach, Calif.; Jean-Marc Gounon, France, BMW V12 LMR, 107.892. 9. Jon Field, Dublin, Ohio; Rick Sutherland, San Jose, Calif., Lola B2K, 106.208. 10. Mark Simo, Carlsbad, Calif.; Jim Matthews, Indianapolis, Reynard 2KQ, 105.400. 11. Dorsey Schroeder, Little Torch Key, Fla.; James Weaver, England, Lola B2K, 105.230. 12. Karl Wendlinger, Austria; Olivier Beretta, Monaco, Dodge Viper, 98.846. 13. David Donohue, Malvern, Pa.; Tommy Archer, Duluth, Minn., Dodge Viper,98.011. 14. Zak Brown, Indianapolis; Vic Rice, San Rafael, Calif., Porsche 911 turbo, 94.807. 15. Lucas Luhr, Monaco; Dirk Muller, Monaco, Porsche 911 GT3 R, 94.789. 16. Hans Stuck, Austria; Boris Said, Carlsbad, Calif., BMW M3, 94.753. 17. Brian Cunningham, Danville, Ky.; Niclas Jonsson, Aliso Viejo, Calif., BMW M3, 94.717. 18. Sascha Maassen, Germany; Bob Wollek, France, Porsche 911 GT3 R, 94.550. 19. Randy Pobst, Melbourne, Fla.; Bruno Lambert, Belgium, Porsche 911 GT3 R, 94.145. 20. Johannes van Overbeek, Danville, Calif.; Peter Cunningham, West Bend, Wis., BMW M3, 94.015. 21. Mike Fitzgerald, Atlanta; Bob Nagel, Clearwater, Fla., Porsche 911 GT3 R, 92.917. 22. David Murry, Atlanta; Johnny Mowlem, England, Porsche 911 GT3 R, 92.871. 23. Shane Lewis, Jupiter, Fla.; Cort Wagner, Santa Monica, Calif., Porsche 911 GT3 R, 92.834. 24. Tony Burgess, Canada; Stefano Buttiero, Italy, Porsche 911 GT3 R, 90.226. 25. Kevin Buckler, Sonoma, Calif.; Rick Knoop, Portola Valley, Calif., Porsche 911 GT3R, 91.996. 26. Doc Bundy, Gainesville, Ga.; Rohan Skea, Australia; Grady Willingham, Birmingham Ala., Porsche 911 GT3 R, 91.672. 27. Jennifer Tumminelli, Tiburon, Calif.; Steve Ariana, Dublin, Calif., Porsche 911 GT3 R, 90.673. 28. Gunnar Jeannette, Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.; Michael Petersen, Las Vegas, Nev.; Dale White, Las Vegas, Nev., Porsche 911 GT3 R, 89.871. 29. Kye Wankum, Canada; Greg Doff, Canada, Porsche 911 GT3 R, 89.782.

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Series ALMS
Drivers Shane Lewis , David Brabham , Stefan Johansson , Rinaldo Capello , Didier de Radigues , Tom Kristensen , Dirk Müller , Jan Magnussen , Allan McNish , Bruno Lambert , J.J. Lehto , Guy Smith , Frank Biela , James Weaver , Boris Said , Karl Wendlinger , Johnny O'Connell , David Murry , Jorg Muller , Bill Auberlen , Tommy Archer , Randy Pobst , Tony Burgess , Jon Field , Sascha Maassen , Lucas Luhr , Kevin Buckler , David Donohue , Gunnar Jeannette , Dorsey Schroeder , Hiroki Katoh , Peter Cunningham , Johannes van Overbeek , Jim Matthews , Brian Cunningham , Mimmo Schiattarella , Johnny Mowlem , Richard Sutherland , Michael Petersen , Vic Rice , Jean-Marc Gounon , Olivier Beretta , Grady Willingham , Bob Wollek , Doc Bundy , Aliso Viejo , Rick Knoop , Zak Brown , Emanuele Pirro , Cort Wagner