Laguna Seca, 19 October 2007
Allan McNish with record-lap at Laguna Seca
Starting positions five and seven for Audi
Gap to LM P2 cars smaller than expected
The Audi drivers are facing a difficult task in the finale of the American Le Mans Series at Laguna Seca (US state of California). As expected the lighter LM P2 sportscars dominated qualifying. Team Audi Sport North America’s two Audi R10 TDI prototypes will start Saturday’s race as fastest LM P1 cars from fifth and seventh positions on the grid.
The 3.602-kilometre / 2.238-mile long track in the hills near Monterey is ideal for the LM P2 sportscars which weigh 150 kilograms less than the cars of the LM P1 top class. Furthermore, the track has traditionally little grip due to the sandy surroundings. This makes it difficult to take full advantage of the high torque of the 650-hp TDI engine.
Nevertheless the 0.7-second gap to pole position was smaller than calculated in simulations. Fastest Audi driver was Allan McNish (Scotland) who was able to beat the existing track record for LM P1 sportscars by more than 2.5 seconds. Mike Rockenfeller (Germany) was just 0.5s slower than his experienced team-mate on his ALMS debut with the second Audi R10 TDI.
The race at Laguna Seca starts on Saturday at 2:43 p.m. local time (11:43 p.m. in Germany) and runs for a duration of four hours. Last year, Audi achieved a 1-2 victory with the R10 TDI – from lower positions on the starting grid.
Quotes after qualifying
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "Principally qualifying went like we’d expected. But I believe we have a good pace for the race and everything will be possible tomorrow. We’ll now optimise the set-ups for the relatively low temperatures we expect for the evening race."
Dindo Capello (Audi R10 TDI #1): "I’m quite confident for the race. We have made significant set-up progress. We expected the LM P2 cars to be very fast here, especially in qualifying, but the time gap from pole is less than I’d expected which is very encouraging for us – with the race in mind. Despite having already won the Driver’s title, Allan and I want to finish off the season with another win."
Allan McNish (Audi R10 TDI #1): "I’m pleased with my qualifying performance although a third row start position is not ideal. The race is going to prove to be a very entertaining season finale as there is still a lot to prove with nothing to lose as the titles are already assured. We’ve a reasonable set-up and balance on the car."
Mike Rockenfeller (Audi R10 TDI #2): "I’m not really happy to be seventh overall. We are struggling with our car which simply does not drive yet as we want to have it. We made a change during qualifying which immediately made me go a lot faster. It is important to be fast in the race. We still need to work a bit but I’m confident."
Marco Werner (Audi R10 TDI #2): "Of course we would like to start further towards the front but I believe ‘Rocky’ has done a good job in qualifying. We tried to give him as much time as possible in the car in practice – that’s also important for the race which is quite long. I hope we can make progress in the race. We are not yet happy with our set-up and we’ve also worked in the wrong direction today. This cost us some time."
Dave Maraj (Team Director Audi Sport North America): "I’m really looking forward to the race. We are much closer to the pole time than we had expected – we were over a second slower than the fastest LM P2 car in the first practice session. As always, we’ll give it our best shot – we’re looking to end what has already been another successful ALMS season for Audi on a winning note."
The starting grid at Laguna Seca
1 Maassen/Briscoe (Porsche) 1m 10.528s
2 Bernhard/Dumas (Porsche) 1m 10.653s
3 Kanaan/Herta (Acura/Honda) 1m 10.913s
4 Brabham/Johansson/Kerr (Acura/Honda) 1m 11.101s
5 McNish/Capello (Audi R10 TDI) 1m 11.175s (1st in LM P1)
6 Fernandez/Dias (Lola/Acura) 1m 11.204s
7 Rockenfeller/Werner (Audi R10 TDI) 1m 11.676s (2nd in LM P1)
8 Smith/Dyson (Porsche) 1m 12.091s
9 Wallace/Leitzinger (Porsche) 1m 12.499s
10 Manning/Chilton (Zytek) 1m 12.785s (3rd in LM P1)