Marco Werner gave himself and co-driver Frank Biela a head start toward winning the American Le Mans Series driving championship by winning the pole Friday for Saturday’s Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.
Werner and Biela, both of Germany, can win the title for the Prototype 900 class by finishing sixth or better in their class in the sports car endurance race that will cover 1,000 miles or 10 hours, whichever comes first, and will end the 2003 ALMS season.
“We’re very happy with the qualifying result and starting up front,” said Werner, who has teamed with Biela for five wins this season. “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.”
Werner’s lap time of 1:11.738 in the Infineon Team Joest Audi R8 on the 2.54-mile track beat the 1:12.450 posted by James Weaver in the Dyson Racing Lola EX257-MG, a time which earned the outside pole overall as well as the LMP 675 class pole.
JJ Lehto qualified third overall and second in P900 with a time of 1:12.700 in the Team ADT Champion Racing Audi R8 he will share with Johnny Herbert and Stefan Johansson.
Quotes after qualifying at Road Atlanta:
INFINEON TEAM JOEST
Marco Werner: “I have to thank Team Joest, which once again has done a superb job. We were not happy with our car here at the beginning, but we kept improving from session to session. During qualifying, the car was perfect. On top of that the rain was good for me. There was only a narrow dry line you had to use. I simply love difficult conditions.”
‘ Frank Biela: “Marco drove superbly in qualifying. He gave the Champion boys a whole second – that’s quite a gap! Unfortunately this doesn’t make tomorrow’s race any shorter, but starting from pole position is a good feeling. Since yesterday’s night practice, our R8 is also very pleasant to drive.”
Petit Le Mans starts Saturday at 11:30 a.m. (ET) and will have seven hours of live television coverage by the SPEED Channel starting at 11:00 a.m. The American Le Mans Series Radio Web will have live coverage online at www.americanlemans.com.