Well shit, who saw this coming? The Audi R10′s go 8th and 9th on grid……. WTF! After coming out of the street course blues and heading into a 4.5m circuit, I think most didn’t expect this from Porsche and Acura. I don’t mind the RS Spyders but damn the Acuras too.
Pirro, where did the magic go?
I hope the reliability of the R10′s shines in the 2:45hr race. Going into Le Mans, they will need the boost esp. with the Peugeot’s doing very well.
Hats off to the Flying Lizard crew. Here’s to a win tomorrow!
Timo Bernhard said he was thrilled to see the American Le Mans Series return to road-course racing and Miller Motorsports Park. Just how glad he felt apparently wasn’t completely evident until his record-setting qualifying performance on Friday. The German destroyed the Series’ record book with his first overall pole position at the wheel of one of Penske Motorsports’ Porsche RS Spyders for Saturday’s Utah Grand Prix.
Bernhard’s time of 2:18.128 smashed not just the previous LMP2 record set last year but also Frank Biela’s overall mark from 2006 in an Audi R10 TDI by a full 3.5 seconds. Bernhard and Romain Dumas are going for their third consecutive overall victory.
“The car is brilliant. I don’t have to tell you it was really, really good,” he said. “I was concentrating on the out lap to get it right because I wanted to save the car’s peak, and then I needed to get it in the first lap. I saw the time was good and I could bring it in because we need to save the tires for the race.”
Sascha Maassen qualified the second Penske Porsche on the outside front row, 0.68 seconds behind Bernhard. The top seven positions were held by P2 cars with Luis Diaz third in Lowe’s Fernandez Racing’s Acura-powered Lola at 2:19.443.
Penske won in class here last year with Maassen and Lucas Luhr, and the two RS Spyders tested at the track Monday. Obviously the team learned something.
“We gained a lot from the experience from last year,” Bernhard said. “We could put the information from last year and then excel. The aero in the car was really good, and we could change it the way we liked and make the car go anywhere we wanted. For sure we developed the car further because there is strict competition in LMP2 so we had to do a lot to make the car better.”
Dindo Capello put the diesel-powered Audi R10 TDI he will share with Allan McNish on the LMP1 pole but qualified in the eighth position overall. His time of 2:21.043 was about a half-second under Biela’s time last season but still put him nearly three seconds behind Dumas.
The Audi camp had said that the 4.5-mile, 24-turn layout at Miller would favor the diesel prototype much more than the three street circuits on which the Series previously ran. But Capello didn’t know the Porsches and Acuras would be as strong as they showed Friday.
“It shows that our forecasts were right but that the other cars are that much quicker,” Capello said. “I might have been 2 to 3 tenths quicker, but that is it. We were really on the limit. We knew the gap would be very big, but we thought that maybe the simulation was wrong about the LMP2 cars. I guess it was right. If you compare our laps to last year, this car is very good. But the lap time Timo did is fantastic. It means he has a good car for sure.”
The sister Audi of Emanuele Pirro and Marco Werner were second in class and ninth overall, just 0.407 behind Capello. Intersport Racing’s Creation-Judd was third in class.
“We are right where we thought we could be,” Capello said. “I think maybe there is something in the balance that we are fighting with because it would be different if just one or two cars were faster. But since it’s almost all the LMP2 cars there must be something with the unbalance. If you watch the qualifying or free practice, when we are following cars, we are losing a lot on the medium corners. Even though the straight is very long we don’t have as much of the advantage we had last year. What we gain there is nothing compared to what we lose to the medium speed corners.”
GT1 content omitted. snore.
Tomas Enge wrote another chapter in his amazing comeback story with a GT2 pole Friday.
Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing’s Tomas Enge continued his storybook weekend with a GT2 pole position in his first race back from a horrific crash six weeks ago at St. Petersburg. He set a class record in the team’s Ferrari F430 GT with a lap of 2:43.226 to outpace defending race winner Jaime Melo from Risi Competizione in another Ferrari by 0.315 seconds.
Enge suffered a shattered left elbow, broken ribs and punctured lung and other injuries in the crash. He returned to the race car last weekend at Miller and showed he hasn’t missed a beat.
“I couldn’t believe I could do this time or beat Jaime’s time because it was a pretty good one,” said Enge, who will drive with Darren Turner. “I have to thank Mike Petersen to give me the chance to drive this car again and everyone at the team for making this car so good.
“(The injuries) are still painful and I still have problems correcting the car when we have problems,” he added. “When you try to drive on the limit and can’t use your left hand, your right hand has to work twice as hard. But the car is working so good.”
Enge’s GT2 mark Friday can go alongside the GT1 record he set last year in an Aston Martin DBR9. He and Turner beat the Corvettes for a class win last season and so far things look very good for another win, this time in GT2. The car was quickest Thursday and in Friday morning’s practice session.
“It is a quite challenging track. It’s not easy to find the right line and the right rhythm,” Enge said. “It’s all about aero here and run with as much downforce as possible. We made some changes just before qualifying that helped us flow as fast as possible through the corners.”
After the two Ferraris, Jorg Bergmeister was next quickest and was the fastest of the Porsche drivers at 2:44.162 for Flying Lizard Motorsports. Porsches held the third, fourth and fifth positions in class.
The next round of the American Le Mans Series is the Utah Grand Prix, set for 5:05 p.m. MT on Saturday, May 19 from Miller Motorsports Park near Salt Lake City. It will air live on XM Satellite Radio’s Sports Nation channel. CBS Sports will air the race at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 20. MotorsTV in Europe, SPEED Latin America and 7TV in Russia also will provide international coverage. American Le Mans Radio and IMSA’s Live Timing and Scoring will be available at americanlemans.com.
Utah Grand Prix
Miller Motorsports Park, Tooele, Utah
Friday’s qualifying results
1. Romain Dumas, France; Timo Bernhard, Germany; Porsche RS Spyder (P2), 2:18.128, 116.92
2. Ryan Briscoe, Australia; Sascha Maassen, Germany; Porsche RS Spyder (P2), 2:18.808, 116.34
3. Luis Diaz, Mexico; Adrian Fernandez, Mexico; Lola/B06-43/Acura (P2), 2:19.443, 115.82
4. Chris Dyson, Pleasant Valley, NY; Guy Smith, England; Porsche RS Spyder (P2), 2:20.097, 115.27
5. David Brabham, Australia; Duncan Dayton, North Salem, NY; Stefan Johansson, Sweden; Acura/ARX-01a (P2), 2:20.389, 115.03
6. Marino Franchitti, Scotland; Bryan Herta, Valencia, CA; Acura/ARX-01a (P2), 2:20.648, 114.82
7. Andy Wallace, England; Butch Leitzinger, State College, PA; Porsche RS Spyder (P2), 2:20.720, 114.76
8. Allan McNish, Scotland; Rinaldo Capello, Italy; Audi AG/R10/TDI (P1), 2:21.043, 114.50
9. Marco Werner, Germany; Emanuele Pirro, Italy; Audi AG/R10/TDI (P1), 2:21.450, 114.17
10. Jamie Bach, West Palm Beach, FL; Ben Devlin, England; Lola/B07-40/Mazda (P2), 2:24.923, 111.44
11. Clint Field, Dublin, OH; Richard Berry, Evergreen, CO; Jon Field, Dublin, OH; Creation/CA06H/Judd (P1), 2:29.573, 107.97
12. Michael Lewis, San Diego, CA; Bryan Willman, Kirkland, WA; Creation CA06H-Judd (P1), 2:35.174, 104.07
13. Olivier Beretta, Monaco; Oliver Gavin, England; Corvette C6.R (GT1), 2:35.697, 103.72
14. Johnny O`Connell, Flowery Branch, GA; Jan Magnussen, Denmark; Corvette C6.R (GT1), 2:38.689, 101.77
15. Darren Turner, England; Tomas Enge, Czech Republic; Ferrari 430GT (GT2), 2:43.226, 98.94
16. Jaime Melo, Brazil; Mika Salo, Finland; Ferrari 430GT Berlinetta (GT2), 2:43.541, 98.75
17. Johannes van Overbeek, San Francisco, CA; Jorg Bergmeister, Germany; Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (GT2), 2:44.162, 98.38
18. Ralf Kelleners, Germany; Tom Milner, Leesburg, VA; Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (GT2), 2:45.382, 97.65
19. Robin Liddell, Scotland; Wolf Henzler, Germany; Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (GT2), 2:45.635, 97.50
20. Rui Aguas, Portugal; Maurizio Mediani, Italy; Steve Pruitt, Sandy, UT; Ferrari 430 GT (GT2), 2:45.896, 97.35
21. Lonnie Pechnik, Pacific Grove, CA; Seth Neiman, Burlingame, CA; Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (GT2), 2:46.249, 97.14
22. Scott Maxwell, Canada; Bryan Sellers, Centerville, OH; Panoz Esperante GTLM (GT2), 2:46.763, 96.84
23. Nic Jonsson, Sweden; Eric Helary, France; Ferrari 430GT Berlinetta (GT2), 2:46.769, 96.84
24. Dominik Farnbacher, Germany; Jim Tafel, Alpharetta, GA; Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (GT2), 2:47.091, 96.65
25. Tim Pappas, Boston, MA; Terry Borcheller, Gainesville, GA; Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (GT2), 2:47.825, 96.23
26. Joey Hand, Sacramento, CA; Bill Auberlen, Hermosa Beach, CA; Panoz Esperante GTLM (GT2), 2:47.952, 96.16.