Le Mans, June 14, 2001
For the second time in succession, last year’s race winner Audi starts the Le Mans
24 Hour race from pole position. In the final qualifying on Thursday evening, Rinaldo
Capello, from Italy, in his Infineon Audi R8 with starting number two topped the best
time that his team-mate Tom Kristensen achieved the previous day. Separated by a
mere 0.029 seconds, both Infineon Audi R8 cars will start Le Mans from the first row.
While last year’s winners Frank Biela, Tom Kristensen and Emanuele Pirro focused
on the race set-up of their Infineon Audi R8 during qualifying, Capello again started
attacking for pole shortly before dusk. Having abandoned his first attempt when
drizzle set in, he was successful on his second bid: At 3m32.429s, he achieved the
new best time.
Thus Laurent Aiello, Rinaldo Capello and Audi newcomer Christian Pescatori will
start on Saturday at 16.00 hours from pole position ahead of their Audi team-mates
Frank Biela, Tom Kristensen and Emanuele Pirro.
As last year after qualifying, three Audi sportscars head the 48-car grid: Johnny
Herbert, Ralf Kelleners and Didier Theys defended the third place they had achieved
on Wednesday in their R8 of American Champion Racing outfit.
Stefan Johansson’s team made considerable progress in the final qualifying: The
Swede was third quickest on the second day, improving from eighth to fifth place on
the grid. On Thursday, only Capello and Jan Lammers in his Dome-Judd were
quicker than Johansson who shares the Audi R8 with starting number four at Le
Mans with Tom Coronel and Patrick Lemarie.
While Johansson mainly used the final qualifying to improve considerably on his
starting position, the Audi works team primarily concentrated on race preparation.
Both Infineon Audi R8 cars were already equipped with their engines for the race.