PORTLAND, Ore. (August 4, 2001) -- David Brabham, driving a Panoz LMP-1, pulled off a major upset Saturday in winning the pole for Sunday's American Le Mans Series Grand Prix of Portland, snapping a year-long, 12-race streak of poles for Audi ...
PORTLAND, Ore. (August 4, 2001) -- David Brabham, driving a Panoz LMP-1, pulled off a major upset Saturday in winning the pole for Sunday's American Le Mans Series Grand Prix of Portland, snapping a year-long, 12-race streak of poles for Audi machines.
The Australian driver set a track record speed of 109.144 mph late in the qualifying session and then watched as Audi drivers Tom Kristensen and Emanuele Pirro came within 1.5 tenths of a second of beating his time. It was the first non-Audi pole in the series since a race in May of 2000 at England's Silverstone circuit.
"I'm really pleased," said Brabham, who won the 1999 ALMS race at the 1.944-mile Portland circuit. "This just pumps up everyone on our team and gets us ready. We have a good race setup and we're ready to try and beat the Audis in a race."
The Panoz team recently abandoned its new 2001 LMP 07 machine after numerous problems and returned to the race-proven LMP-1, which debuted in 1999. Brabham and co-driver Jan Magnussen finished third in the most recent ALMS race at California's Sears Point Raceway.
"Maybe all you have to do is leave the cars in the garage for six months and then pull them out and race them," he said.
"Congratulations to David," said Kristensen, who will start second with co-driver Rinaldo Capello, the ALMS points leader and winner of the three series races held this season. "I did my best and I'm obviously disappointed."
Canadian Ron Fellows, driving a Chevrolet Corvette C5-R, won the GTS-class pole, beating the Saleen S7R driven by Franz Konrad in the final moments of the qualifying session. The pole was the second of the season for Fellows, who has won two of the three races held this season with co-driver Johnny O'Connell. Fellows won the pole despite an off-track excursion early in the 20-minute session.
"I did not anticipate going off in turn one and again in the traffic in the esses," he said. "We had four hard laps in the tires and were able to get a decent lap time at the end."
Boris Said of Carlsbad, Calif., was fastest in the GT class in a BMW M3 GTR, winning his first pole in the three years of the ALMS. The qualifying was tight, as Said's time was only 2/100-second faster than runner-up JJ Lehto.
"It was a really good lap," said Said. "We were lucky to outdo the Porsches. Our cars run the same speed in a straight line, but we have a better-handling car for the rest of the track. It's really close among our cars."
Didier de Radigues of Belgium led qualifying for the LMP 675 class of smaller prototypes, driving a Reynard 01Q-Judd. "We felt alone in the 675 program," he said. "We are preparing for next year and this new category. We're happy to be on the pole and look forward to more competition."
Sunday's sports car endurance will be a timed event of two hours and 45 minutes. The race will not be televised live, but the broadcast of the American Le Mans Series Radio Web can be heard online at www.americanlemans.com beginning at 12 noon (PDT). The Speedvision Network will have tape-delayed television coverage of the race at 8:30 p.m. (EDT) on Monday, August 6.