Preliminary practice ALMS teams notes

Audi, Racers Group teams lead classes in Le Mans testing; 16 American Le Mans Series teams participate in test. LE MANS, France (May 5, 2002) -- American Le Mans Series teams Audi Sport North America and The Racer's Group led their respective ...

Audi, Racers Group teams lead classes in Le Mans testing; 16 American Le Mans Series teams participate in test.

LE MANS, France (May 5, 2002) -- American Le Mans Series teams Audi Sport North America and The Racer's Group led their respective classes Sunday in the annual 24 Hours of Le Mans preliminary practice session at the Circuit de la Sarthe.

Sixteen teams from the American Le Mans Series will be in the field of 48 that will contest the 70th running of the world's most famous endurance race June 15-16. Thirty-one of the selected 48 cars competed in the 2002 ALMS season opener, the 50th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Dodge on March 16.

Audi Sport North America, which is seeking its third consecutive win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, had the fastest car of the day in eight hours of testing at the 8.625-mile circuit. Rinaldo Capello of Italy, the current LMP 900 points leader in the ALMS, turned a lap of 3:30.296 in the closing moments to lead all cars. He will co-drive with Johnny Herbert of England and Christian Pescatori of Italy in the race, the same trio that steered the Audi R8 to victory earlier this year at Sebring.

The Racer's Group team, based at Sears Point Raceway in California, was the fastest car in the GT class during the day of testing. The Porsche 911 GT3 RS timed in at 4:10.081 in the team's first-ever appearance at Le Mans. Kevin Buckler of Novato, Calif., the owner of the team, is co-driving with Lucas Luhr and Timo Bernhard of Germany.

In the LMP 900 class, Audi Sport's two other cars posted the third and fourth-fastest times of the day. The team of Tom Kristensen, Emanuele Pirro and Frank Biela, which has won Le Mans the past two years, was third, with the entry driven by Michael Krumm, Philipp Peter and Marco Werner fourth.

Other ALMS LMP 900 teams had disappointing days on the speed chart, including Panoz Motor Sports (12th, 21st), Team Cadillac (16th, 17th) and MBD Sportscar (24th). The Riley & Scott Racing Team, which will run selected ALMS races this year, was 13th fastest.

KnightHawk Racing, another ALMS regular, was third-fastest in the LMP 675 class behind two factory MG machines. KnightHawk's MG-Lola is the only regular team from the ALMS competing in the LMP 675 class for smaller, less-powerful Prototypes. Driving the car are Steve Knight, Mel Hawkins and Duncan Dayton.

In the GTS class, the fastest car was the Prodrive Ferrari 550 Maranello driven by Tomas Enge, a car that competed at Sebring and will run selected ALMS races this year. With a fast lap of 3:52.070, the car was ahead of the two-car Corvette Racing team, which won the GTS class last year and represents two of the three ALMS teams in the class. The Chevrolet Corvette C5-R driven by Ron Fellows, Johnny O'Connell and Oliver Gavin was third-fastest in GTS with a lap of 3:56.600, followed by its team car driven by Kelly Collins, Franck Freon and Andy Pilgrim to a lap of 3:56.802.

Seventh-fastest was the only other ALMS regular in the GTS class, the Konrad Motorsports Saleen S7R driven by Terry Borcheller, Franz Konrad and Toni Seiler.

The Racer's Group car was more than two seconds faster than the next-closest car in the GT class. ALMS regular Seikel Motorsport, which won the GT class last year at Le Mans, was fourth and seventh in class, the seventh-place car being one of several reserve cars for the Le Mans field. Orbit, another ALMS regular team, was 10th and 13th in the GT class. The second Orbit car is also a reserve car for the race.

The American Le Mans Series, a series of sports car endurance races held in North America, operates under an agreement with the Automobile Club de l'Ouest, organizer of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Racing teams that regularly compete in ALMS races receive special consideration in the selection process for Le Mans.

The next ALMS event will be the Grand Prix of Sonoma presented by Fosters at Sears Point Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., on May 19.

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Series Le Mans
Drivers Johnny Herbert , Duncan Dayton , Tomas Enge , Rinaldo Capello , Tom Kristensen , Franz Konrad , Frank Biela , Michael Krumm , Christian Pescatori , Ron Fellows , Johnny O'Connell , Franck Freon , Andy Pilgrim , Kelly Collins , Lucas Luhr , Kevin Buckler , Terry Borcheller , Oliver Gavin , Timo Bernhard , Marco Werner , Steve Knight , Toni Seiler , Philipp Peter , Emanuele Pirro
Teams Corvette Racing