Excellent job by Emanuele to capture pole in LMP1 in his last race. It was also great to see Christian Albers putting in some strong runs as well. Audi is a bit back in 9th and 10th, so we will have to see if the 4hr race will come back to them.
Emanuele Pirro has captured the LM P1 pole position at Laguna Seca (U.S. state of California) in his last race with the Audi R10 TDI. On Friday, the Italian won the qualifying battle against his team-mate Lucas Luhr.
Team Audi Sport North America’s two Audi R10 TDI prototypes will line-up on the fifth row of the starting grid for the finale of the American Le Mans Series. In unexpected hot conditions, the LM P1 cars had no chance to match the qualifying pace of the lighter LM P2 prototypes. With gaps of 1.1 and 1.7 seconds respectively, Pirro and Luhr qualified ninth and tenth.
Pirro was on a quicker lap when the qualifying session had to be stopped because of a car stuck in the gravel. Luhr was complaining about an understeering car on the slippery track and did not find a clear lap.
Audi had captured the titles in the LM P1 class of the American Le Mans Series already prior the finale. The Audi R10 TDI is undefeated at Laguna Seca so far.
The race starts on Saturday at 2:45 p.m. local time (11:45 p.m. in Germany) and runs over a distance of four hours into the darkness.
Starting driver in the number 1 Audi R10 TDI will be Christijan Albers from the Netherlands who will be competing in his first ever sportscar race at Laguna Seca. Lucas Luhr will be the start driver in the sister car.
Quotes after qualifying at Laguna Seca
Christijan Albers (Audi R10 TDI #1): “The car is not easy to drive, especially on a new track. I have to get used to everything. But there is a good atmosphere in the team and we work together well. I’m going quicker every lap. So I’m quite happy. ‘EP’ did a very good qualifying. I’m excited about tomorrow because this will be my first sports car race in my career and my first rolling start. I’m looking forward to it.”
Emanuele Pirro (Audi R10 TDI #1): “It’s been an exciting qualifying which I enjoyed very much. If you need to build a track tailor made for the lighter LM P2 cars you would build a replica of Laguna Seca. We have to do what we can. Our car is well balanced. We know that the R10 TDI will perform a lot better versus the light cars in the race. And the race is long.”
Lucas Luhr (Audi R10 TDI #2): “We waited a little bit at the beginning to find a gap. Unfortunately I came out just in traffic which was not good. On top of that I hate understeer – if 100 is bad I had 250. We have to try to improve the car for the race. This will be quite some work.”
Marco Werner (Audi R10 TDI #2): “Of course we are not content. Because of the sand the track conditions keep changing from lap to lap. If somebody is running over the kerbs the conditions are getting even worse. Right now, however, we are not happy with the car. We hope it will be cooler tomorrow. This should help us.”
Dave Maraj (Team Director Audi Sport North America): “The lap times are close to last year except for the pole setter. It seems that the track was a little bit slower today due to the hot weather.”
The starting grid at Laguna Seca
1 Brabham/Sharp (Acura/Honda) 1m 10.103s
2 Fernandez/Diaz (Acura/Honda) 1m 10.202s
3 Dumas/Bernhard (Porsche) 1m 10.351s
4 de Ferran/Pagenaud (Acura/Honda) 1m 30.451s
5 Montagny/Kanaan (Acura/Honda) 1m 10.567s
6 Maassen/Long (Porsche) 1m 10.586s
7 Castroneves/Briscoe (Porsche) 1m 10.606s
8 Smith/Dyson (Porsche) 1m 11.010s
9 Albers/Pirro (Audi R10 TDI) 1m 11.264s (1st in LM P1)
10 Luhr/Werner (Audi R10 TDI) 1m 11.825s (2nd in LM P1)