Washington DC: Audi qualifying summary

Audi leads ALMS field through Washington. Washington, D.C. -- During today's qualifying session for the fifth round of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), Frank Biela drove his Infineon Audi R8 to pole position with only a marginal lead....

Audi leads ALMS field through Washington.

Washington, D.C. -- During today's qualifying session for the fifth round of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), Frank Biela drove his Infineon Audi R8 to pole position with only a marginal lead. Together with his partner Emanuele Pirro, the three times Le Mans winner will start the race right beside the companion Infineon Audi R8 of Rinaldo Capello and Tom Kristensen which qualified second.

During the 20 minutes of qualifying, the two Audi drivers had an exciting battle for pole. Four times, Rinaldo Capello and Frank Biela switched the top position and were only separated by a slender fraction. Shortly before the checkered flag, Frank Biela moved to the front with a margin of only 25 thousands of a second.

For a long time, Johnny Herbert in the 2001-spec Audi R8 of the Champion team also battled at the top. But at the end of the session, Herbert had to be satisfied with fourth position on the grid, as Jan Magnussen in the fastest of the Panoz cars split the Audi trio and secured third place.

Beside the special demands of the tight Washington track, which features hairpin corners and a tight chicane, drivers and machine also suffer from the enormous heat. During qualifying it was over 90 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius) while the track temperature increased to over 120 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius).

The fifth round of the 2002 ALMS starts on Sunday at noon and will be televised on CBS starting 1:00 p.m. EDT.

Quotes after qualifying: QFrank Biela (Infineon Audi R8 #1): "Especially on such a short track the gaps are always very small and the fight for position is close. During qualifying, my car was good, but not perfect. In two or three corners I had a little bit too much understeer. But it was still enough for the pole and so I'm very satisfied."

Emanuele Pirro (Infineon Audi R8 #1): "In these conditions, the tires are good for more than just one fast lap, and so we saw a nice battle for the pole position. I'm very proud of Frank's performance today and hope, we can continue like this during tomorrow's race."

Rinaldo Capello (Infineon Audi R8 #2): "My last lap would definitely have been the fastest, but unfortunately I ran out of fuel. Congratulations to Frank for his pole position and of course to the entire crew to put our two cars in the front row of the grid."

Tom Kristensen (Infineon Audi R8 #2): "That was a great and interesting fight for the pole today. This circuit is very demanding for the drivers, the tires and the brakes, because the heat is enormous. Thanks to our doctor I'm fit again, because I had some back trouble over the past few days. In the race we will give everything and try to keep off the walls. Believe me this is not that easy."

Johnny Herbert (ADT Champion Audi R8 #38): "Right at the end of the session, I went off at turn one. While I was braking for the corner, somehow the side of my foot went on to the accelerator and I ended up in the tire wall. The front bodywork is damaged but nothing significant broke. Despite this setback, it won't be a big problem for the race."

Stefan Johansson (ADT Champion Audi R8 #38): "The organizers have done a wonderful job with this track. Our Audi is definitely more competitive here in Washington - we're closer to the "factory" cars which are a later specification. The race will be very tight. Anything can happen - we need a little luck with traffic - but we definitely have the speed to post a podium."

Ralf Juttner, Technical Director Team Audi Sport North America: "Excellent qualifying, very interesting! By the end of the session, Dindo went short on fuel, nobody expected such a long fight for the pole position. The layout of the track is tight but good. The security precautions, like fences, walls are made professionally while there have been few incidents. I just hope that does not change which will make for a very interesting race."

Dr Wolfgang Ullrich, Head of Audi Sport: "Between our two cars there was an extremely tight fight with just a few thousands of a second between them and with numerous changes at the top. This proves that again we have two cars on a high level which is an important precondition for a tough race. The new racetrack in Washington is impressive, made very professionally, is extremely short but very interesting. That became clear to us when we worked on the setups."


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Series ALMS
Drivers Johnny Herbert , Stefan Johansson , Rinaldo Capello , Tom Kristensen , Jan Magnussen , Frank Biela , Ralf Juttner , Emanuele Pirro