Ingolstadt, 20 August 2006
Allan McNish claims pole-position at Road America
Championship leader shatters ALMS track record
Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro in second place
The two Audi R10 TDI sports-prototypes start the seventh race of the American Le Mans Series at Road America (US state of Wisconsin) from the first row. In qualifying on Saturday, Audi "works” driver Allan McNish (Scotland) secured pole-position with a lap time of 1:49.181 minutes, shattering the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) track lap record from 2004. Starting beside the championship leaders on the front row are their team-mates Frank Biela (Germany) and Emanuele Pirro (Italy) in the second Audi R10 TDI.
During the 20 minute qualifying session on Saturday, Allan McNish topped the timesheets from the very start. During the time trial the Scotsman, who is driving on the 4.048 miles track located about 60 miles north of Milwaukee for the first time, improved his time with each lap. On his second lap in dry but overcast weather conditions, he broke the ALMS qualifying track record set in 2004. He then proceeded to improve his time with each of his next three laps.
Frank Biela, who along with Emanuele Pirro won the corresponding Road America race last year, drove the second Audi R10 TDI to a 1:50.567 minute second best time. The fast and flowing Road America track perfectly suits the Audi R10 TDI. For Audi’s new diesel-powered sportscar, it marks the fourth "pole” start of the season. Already at Sebring, Le Mans and at Salt Lake City, the 650 hp strong prototype was the fastest car in qualifying.
The race at Road America starts on Sunday afternoon at 2 pm local time (9 pm in Germany) and takes over a time of 2.45 hours.
Quotes after qualifying in Road America
Dindo Capello (Audi R10 TDI #2): "I was immediately happy with the Audi R10 TDI when we started practicing on Friday. We struggled a little this morning and my own runs were interrupted by red flag stoppages. We made some minor changes for the final practice and were back on the pace and I felt a lot happier. Allan did a great performance in qualifying and so we’re very optimistic for the race. Not only is the car quick but it is nice to drive – we have a good race car for tomorrow.”
Allan McNish (Audi R10 TDI #2): "It was a perfect qualifying session – from the car, the team and me personally – everything clicked together all at the right time. We had an imbalance this morning and the team worked hard to understand why and ultimately ‘dial’ it out and the R10 TDI was perfect in qualifying which allowed me to really attack this circuit. The diesel Audi’s superb torque and aerodynamics combined with excellent Michelin tyres were perfectly suited to this hilly circuit.”
Frank Biela (Audi R10 TDI #1): "It is nice to be on the front row but I am unhappy about the gap of over one second to Allan. His settings were different to mine. At two or three important places my car was understeering, we now must work to find more grip. During the race it will be very important to have good pit stops and to finish the race without problems.”
Emanuele Pirro (Audi R10 TDI #1): "We managed to put both cars at the front. This is a good demonstration of the high technology and performance of our cars. The race will be another story: because it takes a long time to warm-up the tyres, the first laps will be quite difficult. But on the faster sections of the track, our cars should be very strong. The track is very long, so we don’t expect any problems with traffic.”
Dave Maraj (Team Director Team Audi Sport North America): "It’s a great achievement to get 1-2 on the grid especially considering the Dyson Lola’s weight reduction. The Audi Sport North America team has fully concentrated on the job from the moment practice began on Friday and this is our reward. However the race is going to be tough and is likely to feature a number of full course yellows so our race strategy will play a massive part in the final leaderboard.”
The starting grid at Road America
1 Capello/McNish (Audi R10 TDI) 1m 49.181s
2 Biela/Pirro (Audi R10 TDI) 1m 50.567s
3 Luhr/Dumas (Porsche) 1m 51.199s
4 Weaver/Leitzinger (Lola-AER) 1m 51.292s
5 Dayton/Wallace (Lola-AER) 1m 51.315s
6 Maassen/Bernhard (Porsche) 1m 51.393s