SONOMA, CA. (July 16, 2005) - Today's
twenty-minute American Le Mans Series qualifying session for the
Infineon Technologies Grand Prix of Sonoma took place under extreme heat
conditions. Outside air temperature was 101 degrees and the track
temperature was a fiery 145 degrees. Despite the debilitating
conditions, JJ Lehto, qualifier for the No. 1 Audi R8, managed to break
last year's qualifying record set by his teammate Marco Werner, but
found himself shy by 0.073 of a second from pole setter Andy Wallace
from Dyson Racing. The No. 2 Champion Racing Audi R8 driven by Emanuele
Pirro also beat last year's qualifying record but will start fourth
tomorrow on the grid.
Defending race and series champions JJ Lehto and Marco Werner, teammates
in the No. 1 Champion Racing Audi R8, are on a two-race winning streak
in the Audi, having won the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the New England
Grand Prix two weeks ago at Lime Rock Park. Lehto is also going for his
fourth career American Le Mans victory at Infineon Raceway. He won last
year with Werner in the Audi R8, in 2001 with Jorg Muller in a BMW M3
GTR and in 1999 with Steve Soper in a BMW V12 LMR.
The No. 2 Champion Racing Audi R8 of Emanuele Pirro and Frank Biela
posted the fastest time during two of three practice sessions but opted
to qualify on race tires set up for tomorrow's expected cooler
temperatures versus a different set of tires that might have given them
a faster time but not the longevity needed for the 2:45 minute race. The
duo has yet to achieve a victory in the first five rounds of the
American Le Mans Series and anxiously looks forward to tomorrow's race
to showcase their winning talents.
"We had some very good sessions prior to qualifying and then during
qualifying the balance of the car shifted too much," said Graham Taylor,
Race Engineer for the No. 2 Audi R8. "We wanted to compete for the front
row but it was a difficult choice for tires because qualifying was at
4:00 p.m. and the race will start tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. and there is
going to be something like 30 degrees difference in track temperature. I
do believe we have an excellent race car and we proved at Lime Rock that
we can make the right strategy calls."
The Infineon Technologies Grand Prix of Sonoma presented by Ravenswood
Winery is set for 11:00 a.m. PDT Sunday at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma,
CA. CBS Sports will have television coverage from 3:00 - 5:00 p.m. EDT.
American Le Mans Radio and Live Timing and Scoring can be found at
TEAM ADT CHAMPION RACING AUDI R8 #1
JJ Lehto (Fin). Age: 39. Born: Espoo, Finland. Lives: Monte Carlo,
"We had a lot of problems yesterday with the car. A lot of under
steering and we were out of balance so we have been working really hard
since then to correct the problems. I do think we chose the right tires
for the race. For sure they were not the best for the qualifying but
they will work for the race. They will give us good consistency. We
still will need to work during tomorrow's practice session on set-up but
no one can deny that today's qualifying time was very good."
Marco Werner (D). Age: 38. Born: Dortmund, Germany. Lives: Ermatingen,
"I watched the qualifying session from the outside of the track at the
Carousel. I didn't know the lap times but I could see that JJ was
pushing hard. It was close but not enough to get the pole but still, he
did a great job. It's not a shame to be second."
TEAM ADT CHAMPION RACING AUDI R8 #2
Frank Biela (D). Age: 40. Born: Neuss, Germany. Lives: Monte Carlo,
"I think after the three good practice sessions we had we cannot say we
are happy with today's qualifying time. The car has been very good but
we chose different tires for the qualifying session. The problem is that
tomorrow morning it will be much cooler so we had to find a compromise
between today's heat and tomorrow's cooler temperatures. In the end
though, we will have a good tire for tomorrow's race."
Emanuele Pirro (It). Age: 43. Born: Rome, Italy. Lives: Monte Carlo,
"The qualifying times are very close so I am a little disappointed with
the position. I was not expecting at all to do as fast of a time as I
did. We made a tire choice in function for the race, not the qualifying
session. I still believe that our tire choice is a good choice for the
race and we have a good shot for the win."
DRIVERS CLASS TEAM TIME DIFF.
1) C.Dyson/A.Wallace LMP1 Dyson Racing 1:21.688*
2) J.Lehto/M.Werner LMP1 ADT Champion Racing 1:21.761 0.073
3) J.Weaver/B.Leitzinger LMP1 Dyson Racing 1:21.981 0.293
4) E.Pirro/F.Biela/ LMP1 ADT Champion Racing 1:22.056 0.368
5) C.Field/L.Halliday LMP2 Intersport Racing 1:25.290 3.602
*New qualifying record