McNish fastest in first Petit Le Mans qualifying

Allan McNish staked his claim on a fourth American Le Mans Series pole position during first qualifying for Saturday's Petit Le Mans 1000-mile race at Road Atlanta. The Audi driver topped the timesheets throughout the half-hour session and ended up with a new track record of 1m10.379s

McNish fastest in first Petit Le Mans qualifying

McNish described the lap as being "right on the edge". The Scot, who shares his R8 prototype with Rinaldo Capello and Michele Alboreto, said: "If someone had gone quicker I wouldn't have been able to do anything about it. The car was pretty well balanced, but pole position is one thing. Winning a 10-hour race is quite another. We're going to work on getting a comfortable race car in tonight's night session."

Emanuele Pirro was second fastest in the other Joest-run Audi R8. The Italian, who is partnered by Frank Biela and Tom Kristensen, was just under then three tenths of a second behind his team mate.

Best of the rest was David Brabham in the number one Panoz LMP Roadster S. Last year's pole winner at Petit Le Mans ended up eight tenths of a second shy of McNish and edged out BMW's JJ Lehto by a further three tenths.

Johnny O'Connell was fifth fastest in the second Panoz Chevrolet claimed first blood in the battle of the American muscle-cars. Ron Fellows and Andy Pilgrim qualified their Chevy Corvette C5-Rs one-two in the GTS class, while Olivier Beretta in the best of the Chrysler Vipers was six tenths off the pole.

Fellows was confident that he would hang on to his pole in Friday's final qualifying. "I don't think the Vipers have a lot up their sleeves," said the Canadian.

Lucas Luhr's Porsche 911 GT3-R edged out the best of the Prototype Technology Group BMW M3s in the GT division. The Dick Barbour Racing driver ended up four hundredths of second ahead of Boris Said's Bimmer, but was subsequently excluded for a technical iinfringement.



1 Allan McNish, Audi R8, 1m10.379s
2 Emanuele Pirro, Audi R8, 1m10.713s
3 David Brabham, Panoz LMP Roadster S, 1m11.187s
4 JJ Lehto, BMW V12 LMR, 1m11438s
5 Johnny O'Connell, Panoz LMP Roadster S, 1m12.060s
6 Jean-Marc Gounon, BMW V12 LMR, 1m12.116s
GTS Ron Fellows, Chevrolet Corvette C5-R, 1m18.632s
GT Boris Said, BMW M3, 1m24.555s

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