Le Mans, June 15, 2000
Audi Sport Team Joest has made another successful step in its preparations for
this weekend's Le Mans 24 Hour race. In the second and final qualifying session
this evening, the three Audi R8s maintained their hold on the top of the
timesheets to head the 48-car field and in doing so, earned Audi its maiden
pole-position for the gruelling French marathon at only its second attempt.
From the best possible starting position on Saturday afternoon (1600hrs), the
no.9 Audi (Aiello/McNish/Ortelli) will begin the 68th Le Mans 24 Hours. McNish
was able to improve his opening qualifying session time from Wednesday by 1.5
seconds, the Scotsman achieving a best time of 3mins 36.124secs, an average
speed 226.62kph (140.75mph).
The no. 8 Audi (Biela/Kristensen/Pirro) will complete the front row for what is
arguably the world's toughest motor race. Tom Kristensen, from Denmark, was
just 0.526secs slower than McNish. For some time during the session,
Kristensen and McNish traded fastest times and at one point had exactly the
Third place on the capacity grid is the third Audi R8. The no.7 Audi
(Abt/Alboreto/Capello) held provisional pole-position after the opening time trials
but despite improving its time, starts in third place.
Reinhold Joest, Team Director Audi Sport Team Joest, said: ”Of course we are
content with our qualifying result but more importantly than claiming pole-
position, the fact that we were able to work on a good set-up for the race makes
be even happier. All three cars were able to consistently set fast times during
qualifying.” But despite that, Audi Sport Team Joest will try not to take anything
for granted in terms of race preparation.
Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, Head of Audi Sport, remarked: ”We have 24 tough hours of
racing ahead of us. We will be concentrating on this element and taking all the
necessary precautions: We'll not bounce over kerbs, our cars will not baulk each
other and each will be especially careful when overtaking slower cars.”
For the past two days, the weather has been fine and clear, resulting in very
high temperatures but Dr. Ullrich is not unduly concerned. ”The temperature has
been quite high in qualifying but this should only be a problem when driving in a
slipstream of another car and we'll try to avoid this in the race,” he added.