McNish holds onto pole after Audi battle

Allan McNish will start Sunday's 10th round of the American Le Mans Series at Las Vegas from pole position as he attempts to wrap up the championship with one round to go. The 31-year-old Scot traded fastest times with Audi driver Frank Biela before bagging pole on his fifth flying lap

McNish holds onto pole after Audi battle

"You have to go out of the blocks pretty quickly at this track," said McNish, who shares his Audi R8 prototype with Rinaldo Capello. "Frank was a bit quicker than me initially, so I had to push a bit harder."

Biela, who ended up two tenths shy of McNish's time, has been close to his team mate all weekend. "This circuit seems to suit Frank's driving style," said McNish. "You need to be smooth and clean."

A victory for McNish and Capello would give the former the title irrespective of where third-placed Jorg Muller finishes in the BMW he shares with JJ Lehto. McNish leads Capello by 10 points and Muller by 16. Although there are a maximum of 28 points up for grabs at each race, the dropped-score rule means that the BMW driver must finish third to improve his points tally, while has two low scores to drop.

Third fastest was the Panoz of Jan Magnussen, who went ahead of BMW driver JJ Lehto right at the end of the 20-minute session. But the Dane, who partners David Brabham in the number one LMP Roadster S, was nearly a second off the pace.

Panoz race director Dave Price said he doubted that his lead crew could take the fight to the Audis as they did in the previous round of the championship at Laguna Seca earlier this month. "It's going to be difficult to keep up with McNish," said the Englishman. "He was doing one 1m06s lap after another."

Lehto was only a tenth shy Magnussen, while Johnny O'Connell was a further half a second behind in fifth place on the grid. First privateer was Mimmo Schiattarella in the Rafanelli team's Lola-Judd.

Dodge Viper driver Olivier Beretta claimed his fifth GTS class pole position of the year, just three tenths of a second ahead of Tom Coronel. The Dutchman, who is making his ALMS debut in the Carsport Holland entry, reckoned he could have been on pole with a big more luck. "I was trying really hard," said last year's Formula Nippon champion. "On my first lap I went straight through the chicane, set my time on the second lap and then went across the grass trying to improve on my third lap."

The two factory Chevrolet Corvettes were only fourth and fifth in class, Justin Bell ahead of Ron Fellows, as the squad concentrated on its race set up.
Corvette programme manager Doug Fehan said: "We've proved we've got the fastest car in the class with four poles already this year. We're more interested in trying to win the race on Sunday."

Lucas Luhr firmed up his provisional pole in the GT class. The Dick Barbour Racing Porsche driver was three tenths ahead of Randy Pobst in a similar 911 GT3-R run by the Alex Job team. Sascha Maassen was third in the second Barbour car.

1 Allan McNish (Audi R8) 1m06.628s
2 Frank Biela (Audi R8) 1m06.827s
3 Jan Magnussen (Panoz LMP Roadster S) 1m07.527s
4 JJ Lehto (BMW V12 LMR) 1m07.837s
5 Johnny O'Connell (Panoz LMP Roadster S) 1m08.242s
6 Mimmo Schiattarella (Lola-Judd B2K/10) 1m08.554
GTS Olivier Beretta (Dodge Viper GTS-R) 1m14.153s; GT Lucas Luhr (Porsche 911 GT3-R) 1m17.838s

shares
comments
Gavin signs Saleen deal
Previous article

Gavin signs Saleen deal

Next article

McNish is champion...'elect'

McNish is champion...'elect'
How to get the best out of amateur racers Plus

How to get the best out of amateur racers

Pro-Am GT racing is booming. But how should drivers approach working with an amateur? Autosport sought out a panel of experts to explain the pitfalls amateur drivers should avoid and how professionals can help them to achieve their goals

GT
Apr 3, 2022
The remarkable career of a 'classy' champion who rejected politics Plus

The remarkable career of a 'classy' champion who rejected politics

Over two decades as a factory driver with Audi and BMW, Martin Tomczyk earned the respect of team-mates and rivals as a hard but fair racer. After calling time on his racing career, the 2011 DTM champion sat down with Autosport to look back

GT
Mar 5, 2022
The ex-IndyCar racer in "uncharted territory" of British GT team ownership Plus

The ex-IndyCar racer in "uncharted territory" of British GT team ownership

This weekend’s British GT finale will be a tense title showdown for some but, for those not in the championship fight, it’s a chance to end a challenging year on a high. In the latter camp is Paddock Motorsport's team owner Martin Plowman, whose 2021 season has been a rollercoaster ride of non-stop learning

National
Oct 15, 2021
The unpopular BMW stalwart built for the big occasion Plus

The unpopular BMW stalwart built for the big occasion

It has won most of the big prizes in endurance racing across its six years in service, but the BMW M6 GT3's key weaknesses meant only a devoted few teams persisted with running it. As it prepares to bow out at season's end, the teams and drivers involved in its story share the secrets of an unpopular winner

GT
Oct 7, 2021
The unwanted GT car that changed sportscar racing forever Plus

The unwanted GT car that changed sportscar racing forever

Had FIA GT boss Stephane Ratel had his way, the Maserati MC12 would never have been allowed to set foot in his series. It duly proved the class of the field that most had expected, but the Balance of Performance that its superiority spawned would keep GT1 battles tight and bring long-term benefits that sportscar racing enjoys today

GT
Sep 21, 2021
Why Britain's greatest sportscar was eclipsed on the world stage Plus

Why Britain's greatest sportscar was eclipsed on the world stage

The E-Type may be the most famous of all road-going Jaguars, but that didn't always translate into success on the track. After winning on its competition debut in 1961, motorsport success seemed an inevitability, but things didn’t turn out to be quite that straightforward

GT
Aug 6, 2021
Why the Jaguar E-type remains special at 60 Plus

Why the Jaguar E-type remains special at 60

It’s 60 years since the Jaguar E-type arrived and caused a sensation. As our resident racer Ben Anderson discovered when he got behind the wheel of two special racing versions at Brands Hatch, the thrill of driving them hasn't diminished over time

GT
Jul 31, 2021
The rise of a GT squad responsible for a unique 24-hour racing feat Plus

The rise of a GT squad responsible for a unique 24-hour racing feat

It's a significant achievement to win one 24-hour race in a year, let alone two, and with different manufacturers, but that's exactly what ROWE Racing did in 2020 at the Nurburgring and Spa. This weekend's German classic offers the DTM newcomer a chance of another unique double to add to its growing collection of accolades

GT
Jun 3, 2021