McNish sets pace at Road Atlanta

Audi's first assault on Road Atlanta's Petit Le Mans event kicked off on a strong note with Scotland's Alan McNish setting the pace in the opening qualifying session today. McNish stopped the clocks at 1 minute 10.4 seconds aboard the car he ...

Audi's first assault on Road Atlanta's Petit Le Mans event kicked off on a strong note with Scotland's Alan McNish setting the pace in the opening qualifying session today.

McNish stopped the clocks at 1 minute 10.4 seconds aboard the car he will share with regular co-driver Rinaldo Capello and endurance race specialist, Michele Alboretto.

The other Audi driven by Emanuele Pirro, Frank Biela and Tom Kristensen were second fastest ahead of Australia's David Brabham and Jan Magnussen (Panoz).

McNish however, is keen to turn the tables on his team-mates who have already captured the prestigious Sebring and Le Mans endurance classics.

"Straight away our car was quite quick today and we had a pretty good balance in the fast corners," McNish said.

"There is no question the lap I did to set the time was right on the edge, I was pushing as hard as I could. If someone had gone quicker, I doubt whether I would have been able to go out and beat it again.

"The target now is to try and make the balance of the car nice for the race itself."

Brabham was hopeful of finding additional speed in the night practice session overnight in preparation for Saturday's ten hour race.

"I was pleased with the lap because I got as much out of it as I could, but we are struggling a little bit in some areas," Brabham said.

"We are going to try a few different things so we can test them tonight in the practice session and have them ready for tomorrow's final qualifying. I feel if we can sort out these problems we can certainly go faster but the Audis are still a little bit ahead."

The Chevrolet Corvettes set the pace in the GTS division, taking first and second place in qualifying against the dominant Dodge Viper squad.

Ron Fellows, Chris Kneifel and Justin Bell hold the provision pole position with team-mates Andy Pilgrim/Kelly Collins/Frank Freon in second place.

Dirk Muller and Lucas Luhr were fastest in the GT class. BMW driver Hans Stuck returned to his BMW after missing the last race with a neck injury while Australian Rohan Skea missed the on-track action entirely today after awaiting the delivery of his new car he will share with Doc Bundy and Richard Dean. <pre> QUALIFYING - PROTOTYPE DIVISION 1. - Alan McNish/Rinaldo Capello/Michele Alboretto - Audi - 1:10.4 2. - Emanuele Pirro/Frank Biela/Tom Kristensen - Audi - 1:10.7 3. - David Brabham/Jan Magnussen - Panoz - 1:11.2 4. - JJ Lehto/Jorg Muller - BMW - 1:11.4 5. - Johnny O'Connell/Hiroki Katoh/Klaus Graf - Panoz - 1:12.1 GTS DIVISION 1. - Ron Fellows/Chris Kneifel/Justin Bell - Chevrolet Corvette - 1:18.6 GT DIVISION 1. - Dirk Muller/Lucas Luhr - Porsche GT3-R - 1:24.5

-Paul Ryan

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Series ALMS
Drivers David Brabham , Rinaldo Capello , Tom Kristensen , Dirk Müller , Jan Magnussen , Frank Biela , Chris Kneifel , Klaus Graf , Ron Fellows , Johnny O'Connell , Andy Pilgrim , Jorg Muller , Justin Bell , Kelly Collins , Lucas Luhr , Ryan Paul , Hiroki Katoh , Doc Bundy , Richard Dean , Emanuele Pirro , JJ Lehto