Mid-Ohio Thursday practice report

LEXINGTON, Ohio (August 23, 2001) -- The privateer Champion Audi team set the fastest time of the day Thursday as American Le Mans Series teams practiced in rainy conditions for Saturday's inaugural ALMS event at Mid-Ohio Sports Car...

LEXINGTON, Ohio (August 23, 2001) -- The privateer Champion Audi team set the fastest time of the day Thursday as American Le Mans Series teams practiced in rainy conditions for Saturday's inaugural ALMS event at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Heavy rain began to fall moments before the start of the two-hour practice session, soaking the 2.258-mile racing circuit and holding testing speeds well below those that were expected. Though the sun came out for the final few minutes of the session, the track was never dry. Official practice and qualifying will be held Friday for Saturday's two-hour, 45-minute sports car endurance race.

The Champion Audi, co-driven by Johnny Herbert and Andy Wallace of England, turned a best lap of 1:31.63 (88.707 mph) on the wet track to lead the session. The Florida-based team was the first non-factory team to receive one of the Audi R8 Prototypes that have dominated the ALMS in most of the 2000 and 2001 seasons. The car was rebuilt after Herbert was involved in a crash while racing for the lead in the closing moments of last Sunday's event at Canada's Mosport International Raceway.

The two factory Audis were second and third in Thursday's practice, with the car driven by Emanuele Pirro and Frank Biela second at 1:31.97. The Rinaldo Capello/Tom Kristensen car, which was also crashed in last week's race, was third at 1:32.23.

The Panoz LMP1-R of David Brabham and Jan Magnussen was fourth at 1:33.71, followed by the Lola B2K/10B-Judd of local drivers Jon, Clint and Joel Field at 1:34.54.

The wet track conditions made for some unusual mixing of the cars in the rest of the field, with cars that are normally slower being somewhat equalized by the conditions. The GT-class BMW M3 GTR of JJ Lehto and Jorg Muller was seventh overall with a lap of 1:40.89.

Leading the LMP 675 class for smaller Prototypes was the Reynard 01Q-Judd of Didier de Radigues and Bruno Lambert at 1:41.27, while the Saleen S7R of Terry Borcheller and Franz Konrad led the GTS class with a lap of 1:41.50.

Twenty-eight cars are on hand to participate in the first-ever ALMS race in the American Midwest. The event starts at 1 p.m. Saturday and will be televised live by NBC Sports. The live broadcast of the American Le Mans Series Radio Web can be heard online at www.americanlemans.com. Ticket information is available online at www.midohio.com or by calling 1-800-MID-OHIO.

-ALMS

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Series ALMS
Drivers Andy Wallace , Johnny Herbert , David Brabham , Rinaldo Capello , Didier de Radigues , Tom Kristensen , Jan Magnussen , Franz Konrad , Bruno Lambert , Frank Biela , Terry Borcheller , Emanuele Pirro , JJ Lehto