American Le Mans Series teams win two provisional poles for 70TH running of 24 Hours Of Le Mans. LE MANS, France (June 12, 2002) -- American Le Mans Series teams Audi Sport North America and The Racers Group won provisional pole positions ...
American Le Mans Series teams win two provisional poles for 70TH running of 24 Hours Of Le Mans.
LE MANS, France (June 12, 2002) -- American Le Mans Series teams Audi Sport North America and The Racers Group won provisional pole positions Wednesday night as Qualifying Practice began at the Circuit de la Sarthe for the 70th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Audi Sport's team, which has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans the past two years, had the fastest car overall of the 50 that will start the race at 4 p.m. (Le Mans time) on Saturday. Rinaldo Capello drove the Audi R8 Prototype to a fast lap of 3:30.347 on the 8.625-mile circuit to take the provisional pole. He will share the car with Johnny Herbert and Christian Pescatori, reuniting the trio that won the Sebring 12-hour event that opened the American Le Mans Series season in March.
The Racers Group team, based in Sonoma, Calif., and running at Le Mans for the first time, was the provisional pole winner in the GT class. The car's fastest lap was 4:11.486. Team owner Kevin Buckler will co-drive the Porsche 911 GT3 RS with Germans Lucas Luhr and Timo Bernhard.
There are 27 American drivers among the 150 that will compete in the race, and 31 of the 50 cars competed in the Sebring event. Race teams that regularly compete in American Le Mans Series races receive special consideration in the Le Mans selection process.
In the LMP 900 (Prototype) class, a second factory Audi driven by Tom Kristensen, Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro was second-fastest on Wednesday. Pirro is the defending American Le Mans Series champion.
Other ALMS teams in the LMP 900 class include Team Cadillac (7th and 11th in class), Riley & Scott Racing (12th), Panoz Motor Sports (13th and 15th) and MBD Sportscars (21st).
In the GT class, defending race winner Seikel Motorsport was third-fastest in provisional qualifying, while Florida-based Orbit Racing was fifth. Orbit is making its first appearance at Le Mans.
In the LMP 675 class for smaller Prototypes, the factory MG team set the fast time of 3:33.254, good enough for fifth-fastest overall in the field. KnightHawk Racing, an American team, was sixth in class and AutoExe Motorsports, with American drivers Jim Downing and John Fergus, was seventh in class.
The GTS class is shaping to be a competitive battle as the Prodrive Ferrari 550 Maranello led the way with a lap of 3:56.730. ALMS team Corvette Racing, which won the GTS class at Le Mans last year, was second-fastest at 3:58.491. The Corvette team car was fifth, while two Saleen S7R machines entered by ALMS team Konrad Motorsport were sixth and eighth in class. Several European-based Chrysler Viper teams were sprinkled among the Corvettes and Saleens.
The second and final round of Qualifying Practice begins at 7 p.m. Thursday (Le Mans time) with two sessions of two hours each, split by a one-hour break. The circuit closes at midnight. There is no track activity on Friday, but all starting drivers will participate in the annual Driver's Parade in the center of Le Mans at 6 p.m.
In the United States, race fans can watch live coverage of 14 of the 24 hours on the SPEED Channel, while full coverage of practice, qualifying and the race by Radio le Mans can be heard online at www.radiolemans.com. Live timing and scoring, as well as full results and information, can be viewed at www.lemans.org.