McNish keeps pole for Petit Le Mans

Allan McNish will start Saturday's Petit Le Mans 1000-mile from pole position, his third in this year's American Le Mans Series for Audi. The Scot believed he had improved on his provisional pole time, but the official scoring at Road Atlanta showed that he just failed to eclipse his Thursday best.

McNish keeps pole for Petit Le Mans

McNish's lap was just a couple of hundredths behind his previous best of 1m10.379s, but Audi team mate Emanuele Pirro was a full two tenths shy of his first session best in a session generally reckoned to be slower than the first.

"We thought we were quicker," said the 30-year-old, who shares with Rinaldo Capello and Michele Alboreto, "but it doesn't matter. The track wasn't as grippy today, but I'm still happy with the car. We've tried to make it very driveable in race conditions and we think we know how it is going to respond in every situation."

McNish doesn't believe that Saturday's race with be an Audi walkover. "We're in good shape, but David Brabham went second fastest in today's session in the Panoz. I've known him and Jan Magnussen [Brabham's team mate] long enough never to discount them."

Brabham pulled out a lap time of 1m10.875s to come within a tenth of knocking Pirro off the front row and will line up third on the grid.

McNish said that the he wasn't ruling out a strong challenge from the two BMW V12 LMRs, which will line up fourth and sixth. "The BMWs have pulled results out of nothing this year, so you can never count them out. And they are more competitive here than they have been in the last few races."

Ron Fellows held on to pole position in the GTS class in his factory Chevrolet Corvette C5-R even though he didn't improve his time. The Canadian is confident that the Goodyear-shod Corvettes can take the challenge to the all-conquering Dodge Vipers in the race, despite the acknowledged superiority of the latter's Michelin tyres in race conditions. "Goodyear have been working hard," said Fellows, who shares the lead 'Vette with Chris Kneifel and Justin Bell. "They've even come up with an improved tyre since we won at Texas at the beginning of the month."

Randy Pobst lopped over one second off his time to claim pole position in the GT division. The Alex Job Porsche driver ended up half a second up on the nearest opposition in the class, Dirk Muller's similar Dick Barbour Racing car.

Pobst, who is teamed with Bruno Lambert and Anthony Lazzaro, said: "We found what was wrong with the car and I knew straight away that we had the pole position car."

Tomorrow's Petit Le Mans event starts at 12.30pm local time [5.30 BST] and will run for 1000 miles or 10 hours, whichever is the sooner.

GRID
1 Allan McNish Audi R8 1m10.379s
2 Emanuele Pirro Audi R8 1m10.713s
3 David Brabham Panoz LMP Roadster S 1m10.875s
4 JJ Lehto BMW V12 LMR 1m11438s
5 Johnny O'Connell Panoz LMP Roadster S 1m12.060s
6 Jean-Marc Gounon BMW V12 LMR 1m12.107Ss
GTS Ron Fellows Chevrolet Corvette C5-R 1m18.632s
GT Randy Pobst Porsche 911 GT3-R 1m23.587s


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