Qualifying: Werner blitzes field

Marco Werner defied a damp track to set a stunning time on his way to pole position for the Petit Le Mans ALMS race in qualifying today (Friday), outpacing his nearest rival by nearly three quarters of a second in Joest Racing's Audi R8

Qualifying: Werner blitzes field

Werner and co-driver Frank Biela currently head the ALMS points standings, and they only need to finish sixth in the 1,000km race to claim the championship.

"We're very happy with the qualifying result and starting up front," said Werner. "It's not so important in a long race, but it's nice to be up front. We want to win the championship, but if the conditions are good we will push hard to try to win the race."

Second fastest, and quickest of the LMP675 runners, was James Weaver in the Dyson Racing Lola EX257-MG he shares with Butch Leitzinger and Andy Wallace. The nimble machine had set the pace for much of the weekend, but couldn't match the Audi in the conditions, with the track slowly drying after an earlier rain shower.

The Champion Racing Audi R8 of JJ Lehto - the only man who can debt the Joest duo the crown - Johnny Herbert and Stefan Johansson was third fastest, ahead of the lead Panoz LMP01 of Olivier Beretta, David Saelens and Max Papis.

Although the prototype runners avoided the rain, the GTS and GT classes - who ran first - weren't so lucky, and had to contend with a track soaked by rain. David Brabham managed the conditions best in the GTS class, setting a best time of 1m26.338s in the Prodrive Ferrari 550 Maranello he shares with Jan Magnussen and Anthony Davidson.

The rain appeared to give the Ferrari runners an edge over the Corvette machines, with the Team Olive Garden 550 Maranello second fastest, ahead of the second Prodrive machine. The lead Corvette C5-R, driven by Oliver Gavin, Kelly Collins and Andy Pilgrim was fourth in class, albeit over three seconds off the Brabham's pace.

Sascha Maassen claimed the GT class pole for Alex Job Racing, outpacing the Porsche squad's second machine.

Biela/Werner Audi R8 LMP900 1m11.738s
Weaver/Leitzinger/Wallace Lola EX257 LMP675 1m12.450s
Herbert/Lehto/Johansson Audi R8 LMP900 1m12.700s
Beretta/Saelens/Papis Panoz LMP01 LMP900 1m13.290s
Dyson/Block/de Radigues Lola EX257 LMP675 1m13.775s
Jennette/Leuenberger/Maxwell Panoz LMP01 LMP900 1m14.166s

Magnussen/Brabham/Davidson Ferrari 550 Maranello 1m26.338s
Naspetti/Schiattarella/Camathias Ferrari 550 Maranello 1m16.575s
Kox/Enge/Menu Ferrari 550 Maranello 1m27.694s

Maassen/Luhr Porsche 911 GT3 RS 1m29.391s
Bernhard/Bergmeister/Dumas Porsche 911 GT3 RS 1m30.212s
Hindery/Baron/Rockenfeller Porsche 911 GT3 RS 1m30.376s

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