Audi vs BMW at the 'Ring


Team prepare for the Le Mans rematch

Just three weeks after the 24 Hours of Le Mans, many of the main competitors are back in action at the Nürburgring, in the context of the second European Le Mans Series race. Counting towards the 2000 ALMS points tables, the 1000km race will see Panoz and BMW try to wreak revenge on the all-conquering Audi R8s.

Audi have entered their new cars in this race, after competing with the older versions at Silverstone. BMW, although their cars are far from new, have taken advantage of the six week break to further test and do some minor development work on the 1999-Le Mans winning V12 LMR. "Although we won the past two rounds, we've never been really happy with the set-up," Jean-Marc Gounon said. "In testing at Mugello, Jörg Müller and I think we've found the right direction. We'll be coming to Germany to win -- especially against the new Audi cars!".

The Audis are also determined to score the maximum number of points in this ALMS round, as BMW currently have a commanding lead in the championship. "It'll be important to get our heads down: everyone is going to be gunning for us." Allan McNish said.

Some of the damage from Le Mans has been made good, with the fire-destroyed DAMS Cadillac Northstar replaced by a new chassis for Tinseau and Goossens, and the Aspen Knolls Porsche GT repaired after Shane Lewis's heavy Sarthe crash.

For the first time, cars in the LMP675 category are taking part in an ALMS race, with the Volkswagen-powered ROC Reynards and the PIR Competition BMW Debora competing for class honours.

Friday's optional test session took place in typical Nürburgring weather rain and clouds. The Audis dominated throughout, although both the Panoz and BMW came close to the R8s. After the three hours drew to an end -- the time having been punctuated by red flags due to the recovery of various cars -- the Audi, driven by Biela and Pirro, topped the time sheets, closely followed by the two BMW V12 LMRs, with JJ Lehto setting the fastest BMW time.

In the GTS class, the Team Oreca Chrysler Vipers continued to totally dominate their class, with Beretta, Wendlinger and Duez ahead of Archer, Donohue and Belloc. In GT, Dick Barbour Racing recovered from their surprise Le Mans disqualification by setting the fastest class times.

The real action gets underway on Saturday, with qualifying following the free practice sessions. The 1000 km race starts on Sunday at 12:15.

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