Allan McNish is aiming for gold at Portland

Audi's drivers travel to America's north-west this weekend, to Portland in Oregon, looking to move into the lead of the American Le Mans Series. BMW's Jorg Muller stands at the top of the points table after the seventh of the 12 rounds, but the team on the charge is Audi which claimed a one-two finish in last weekend's race at Texas Motor Speedway

Allan McNish is aiming for gold at Portland

Allan McNish is Audi's best placed driver in third overall, lying 13 points behind Muller and 10 behind Muller's driving partner JJ Lehto. However, with the works BMWs falling from the pace around the combination of twisting infield and banked circuit in Texas, McNish's chances of taking a chunk out of this deficit at Portland this Sunday look good, with a win worth 25 points to the 21 points for second, 19 for third, 17 for fourth and 15 for fifth.

McNish would have been closer still had he won in Texas where he was thwarted when his car's radio stopped working and his co-driver Rinaldo Capello failed to hear calls to pit for fuel during a caution period, thus falling to second place behind Audi team-mates Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro, which is how they finished.

The circuit lay-out at Portland is very different to that at Texas Motor Speedway, but BMW may again have to cede position as best of the rest behind Audi to Panoz, the American marque having outpaced them in Texas with David Brabham and Jan Magnussen being third fastest throughout, finishing a lap down, albeit two laps ahead of the BMWs. One thing that will affect all the frontrunners is the narrowness of the circuit, with backmarkers sure to pose a problem or two. Pirro explains why: "The Portland track is very interesting, but it won't be easy. Most decisive is the snaking combination of corners after the first turn that offer many different lines. I'm convinced, though, that only one of these lines is the quick one, so it pays to be familiar with circuit."

Last year's race honours at Portland went to Panoz's Brabham and Eric Bernard, but only after BMW slipped up and failed to call its race-leading Lehto/Steve Soper entry into the pits during a late-race caution period and Panoz's gamble of pitting and hoping that the fuel they took on would last them to the end of the race. It did.

GTS class honours have belonged to the dominant Viper Team Oreca all year, but Chevrolet rocked the boat in Texas, with Corvette Racing finally taking its first class win thanks to Ron Fellows and Andy Pilgrim. However, Oreca's points leaders Olivier Beretta and Karl Wendlinger will be looking for their sixth class win at Portland, making amends for Wendlinger having spun out of the class lead in Texas. With Corvette Racing not heading west, this shouldn't prove too dificult.

In the GT class, Bruno Lambert and Randy Pobst will be looking to make it three class wins in a row in their Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3-R, but Sascha Maassen and Bob Wollek still lead the points race in their similar car fielded by Dick Barbour Racing.

The race is scheduled to last two hours and forty five minutes, starting at midday west coast time (2000 British Summer Time).


1 Jorg Muller BMW 163
2 JJ Lehto BMW 160
3 Allan McNish Audi 150
4 Frank Biela Audi 149
5 Emanuele Pirro Audi 146
6 Rinaldo Capello Audi 145
7 Jan Magnussen Panoz 143
8 David Brabham Panoz 128
9 Bill Auberlen BMW 115
10 Jean-Marc Gounon BMW 107
10 Hiroki Katoh Panoz 107


1 Audi 162
2 BMW 157
3 Panoz 139
4 Reynard 80
5 Lola 73
6 Cadillac 53

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