Texas Motor Speedway preview

The American Le Mans Series moves south to the Texas Motor Speedway for round seven this weekend and with Audi gaining on BMW at the top and a brand new and unfamiliar circuit for the drivers, there should be action a-plenty

Texas Motor Speedway preview

Round eight took place three weeks ago at the Mosport circuit in Canada and saw the BMW of series leaders Jorg Muller and JJ Lehto finish 0.148s behind the Audi R8 of Allan McNish and Ronaldo Capello - the closest ever finish in the history of the series.

The drivers battle is now closing up with Muller still out in front on 146 points and team mate Lehto only three points behind. McNish has soared back into contention and now lies third on 126 points, but was only a lowly seventh before the Mosport round. Jan Magnussen is clinging on to his fourth spot on 124 points while the Audi drivers of Capello and Frank Biela are snapping at his heels with both just one point adrift.

The 2.83 mile circuit, completed only two weeks ago, is set in deepest Texas, north west of Dallas Fort Worth airport. Setting up the cars will be key for Sunday's race which takes place on a track which uses 95 per cent of the NASCAR oval as well as a twisty infield section.

"The Texas circuit is an oval, which now features a road course infield section," said Audi number one McNish. "I will not have seen the track until I get there this week. It appears that a lot of the banked oval section will be used without any chicanes to slow the cars down so that could mean we will be approaching turn one at over 180 mph."

The battle this weekend will likely be between the leading Audi of McNish and Capello and the Panoz of David Brabham and Jan Magnussen. This will be the first outing for the Le Mans-developed Audi R8 on a modified oval and with Audi's emphasis now firmly on the ALMS after dominating the La Sarthe race, the Ingolstadt marque will be hard to beat. The pairing of Muller and Lehto - with their driving talent, reliability and extremely efficient pit crew - will be waiting in the wings come the chequered flag to pick up any stray points.

Texas is another race the Cadillacs will miss due to the team's restricted budget, but one works car will be present at the following round a week later in Portland.

In the GTS class the ORECA Vipers remain the cars to beat - a feat that becomes ever meaner as the team's unbeaten run stretches back to June, 1999. Corvette, however are closing in on the Chrysler cars and the Andy Pilgrim and Ron Fellows car finished just 0.353s behind the Olivier Beretta and Karl Wendlinger Viper at Mosport.

GT honours are currently under the control of Dick Barbour Racing Porsche driver Dirk Muller. The German driver has held onto his class lead despite the fact the team has missed out on victory in the last two rounds - first to the PTG BMW M3 of Hans Stuck and Boris Said at Sears Point and then to Bruno Lambert and Randy Pobst's Alex Job Racing Porsche.

Saturday evening's race lasts 2h45m and starts at 1900 on Saturday (0100 Sunday BST).


Jorg Muller BMW 146
JJ Lethto BMW 143
Allan McNish Audi 126
Jan Magnussen Panoz 124
Frank Biela Audi 123
Rinaldo Capello Audi 13
Emanuele Pirro Audi 121
David Brabham Panoz 109
Bill Auberlen BMW 100
Hiroki Katoh Panoz 93

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