Sebring Day 2: McNish keeps Audi on top
Allan McNish kept Audi out front for the second straight day at Sebring with a blistering fast lap of 1:45.106 in the Audi R10 TDI he will share with Rinaldo Capello and Tom Kristensen. McNish, a winner at Sebring twice with Audi, was nearly 0.8 seconds better Tuesday than his record-breaking qualifying run from last year's event and 0.1 ahead of Kristensen's best time from Monday.
The diesel-powered R10 TDI made history last year at Sebring by winning its race debut with McNish, Capello and Kristensen. The car won each of its eight races including seven in the American Le Mans Series and at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
"You can always improve," McNish said. "Last year the car was quite raw. It was hard to make many adjustments when we were racing as often as we were. But during the winter you have time to do all of the things you wanted to do but couldn't during the season.
"There's not one major thing that would make you say, 'Wow, that's really different,'" he added. "That's a testament to Audi getting it right the first time."
Frank Biela set the session's second-fastest time in the second R10 TDI. A three-time Sebring champion, his best effort was a 1:46.421 in the Audi that he will drive with Emanuele Pirro and Marco Werner. Intersport Racing's new Judd-powered Creation prototype was third in class at 1:51.238.
Both of Penske Racing's two Porsche RS Spyders were under last year's track record. Helio Castroneves led the way with a 1:47.160, good for third overall and nearly 0.6 seconds under Lucas Luhr's 2006 time. Castroneves, in his first American Le Mans Series race, edged Sascha Maassen in the sister Penske car by 0.4 seconds. Porsches held the top three spots (Guy Smith was the best Dyson Racing entry) with Andretti Green Racing's Acura-powered prototype fourth in class at 1:48.067.
Jan Magnussen topped the chart in GT1 with a 1:57.466 in one of Corvette Racing's Corvette C6.Rs The Dane, teaming with Ron Fellows and Johnny O'Connell, was 0.103 seconds ahead of the sister car of Olivier Beretta, Oliver Gavin and Max Papis. They were followed by Team Modena's Aston Martin DBR9 at 1:59.820.
Rui Aguas set his first fast lap in the American Le Mans Series and the first for Corsa Motorsports/White Lightning Racing in GT2. Aguas turned in a 2:03.227 in the team's Ferrari F430 GT, almost 0.4 seconds better than the existing track record. Aguas is at Sebring for the first time but has adapted well early on.
"This is a big step forward," said Aguas, who will drive with Maurizio Mediani and Jose Maria Lopez. "The track is very nice. It's very bumpy and completely different than what we have in Europe. It will be very interesting to run with the prototype cars. We raced with GT1 cars last year in Europe, but the LMP1s and LMP2s are just unbelievably quick."
Second quickest in class was Flying Lizard's Jorg Bergmeister in the team's new Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. The Porsche factory driver was 0.267 seconds back of the Corsa/White Lightning Ferrari. Other F430 GTs from Risi Competizione were within a half second of Bergmeister and the Porsche.