Audi starts the second round of the American Le Mans Series in Houston from fourth position on grid on Friday evening and second in the LMP1 class for the Lone Star Grand Prix. Audi factory driver Dindo Capello (Italy) set a personal fastest time of 1:05.382 at the wheel of the Audi Sport North America Audi R8 in Thursday’s 20-minute qualifying session – less than a second behind James Weaver’s pole sitting Lola.
New regulations dictate the Audi R8, which has scored 61 wins since making its race début over six years ago, to weigh 935 kilograms this season – 35 kg more than Audi’s LMP1 rivals.
Capello and co-driver Allan McNish (Scotland) begin the second round of the American Le Mans Series as leaders of the LMP1 Drivers’ classification. The Anglo-Italian combination plus Tom Kristensen claimed a historic victory in the season opening 12 Hours of Sebring in the diesel-powered Audi R10 TDI which is being prepared in Europe for the Le Mans 24 Hours. The R10 TDI will race again in the American Le Mans Series only in the second half of the season.
The 1.7-mile, 10-corner temporary “street” circuit has been constructed in Houston’s Reliant Park. The 165-minute race begins at 8 p.m. (local time) on Friday evening (3 a.m. German time on Saturday morning).
Quotes after qualifying in Houston
Dindo Capello (No. 2 Audi R8): “I’m satisfied with a second row start – it’s about where I guessed we’d be with the additional weight. I had a little issue with the steering in qualifying. It cost me time but I could not have got onto the front row anyway. I believe the race will be different. The reliability of the R8 is well-known.”
Allan McNish (No. Audi R8): “It’s a very slow and incredibly bumpy track. Considering our weight penalty, our performance has been reasonable. The race will be demanding. Overtaking will be extremely hard while tire choice will be critical due to the expected high wear rate. It’s going to be a long, tough race.”
Dave Maraj (Team Director, Team Audi Sport North America): “I’m pleased with our qualifying performance – the drivers and team could not have worked any harder. The important thing is to get a nice, well-balanced car for the race. I will be a very proud man tomorrow – representing Audi Sport North America as an Audi ‘factory’ team is a dream for me.”