By Pat Jennings - Motorsport.com Braselton, GA - As gray, overcast skies yielded to the warm South Georgia sunshine, Tom Kristensen blistered the track in his Joest Racing Audi R8 to capture the pole for the Petite Le Mans at Road Atlanta.
By Pat Jennings - Motorsport.com
Braselton, GA - As gray, overcast skies yielded to the warm South Georgia sunshine, Tom Kristensen blistered the track in his Joest Racing Audi R8 to capture the pole for the Petite Le Mans at Road Atlanta. Kristensen's pole is his second of the season and the seventh in eight races for Audi. "We were very nervous and concerned about the weather," Kristensen stated with regard to the changing weather conditions. "But the track was completely dry by the time we went out, and it was probably the best it has been all week because of the temperature. But qualifying does not mean that much for us because it's such a long, hard race. Where you start is important until the first yellow. "
Kristensen's pole also increases his chances of claiming the 2001 ALMS championship. "Everybody wants to finish on a high because of the long off season, so you want to have a good result. It's going to be tough though."
In fact, Audis claimed four of the top five qualifying positions for tomorrow's race as Kristensen's teammate Emanuele Pirro starts second, Stefan Johansson fourth, and Johnny Herbert fifth. David Brabham, who will start third, was the only driver to crack the Audi freight train.
Didier de Radigues captured the pole for the fourth time this season in the LMP 675 class. "The car has improved a lot this year," the 2001 LMP 675 champion explained. "We're getting closer and closer to the big cars. I just hope that we will be able to finish here." Jordi Gene will start second.
With less than a minute left in this afternoon's qualifying session, Andy Pilgrim claimed his first GTS pole in the No. 3 Corvette C5-R. Terry Borcheller will roll off of the grid in second place in his Konrad Team Saleen S7-R while Oliver Gavin qualified his Saleen in the third position. In the biggest surprise of the 30-minute qualifying session, Mike Hezemans managed to turn the fourth quickest lap in the notoriously slow American Viperacing entry. Moreover, Rickard Rydell could only manage the session's fifth fastest time in the Prodrive Allstars Ferrari. In stark contrast to Pilgrim's hot lap, Ron Fellows will start shotgun on the field after an off track excursion prevented the No. 3 Corvette from mounting a serious challenge for the pole.
It was business as usual in the GT class as JJ Lehto led a BMW sweep of the top-three spots in the GT class. "It was very wet in the beginning [of the session], but it began to dry out and it was just a matter of picking the right time to make a run on slicks," he explained. Lehto will lead Dirk Muller and Hans Stuck to the green flag tomorrow afternoon. The closest Porsche was the No. 22 Alex Job 911GT3 RS of Christian Menzel. David Murry will start fifth in the PTG BMW.