McNish, Audi top Thursday test at Road America
All week, the Audi Sport North America camp has been relishing the American Le Mans Series’ return to Road America. The two diesel-powered prototypes didn’t disappoint by posting the two fastest times in Thursday’s practice session for Saturday’s Generac 500 at Road America.
Allan McNish was quickest in the No. 1 Audi R10 TDI with a lap of 1:49.172 over the 14-turn, 4.048-mile circuit through the hills of Wisconsin. The Scot already is under his track qualifying record from last year by 0.009 seconds and sat 0.407 seconds ahead of the sister car of Marco Werner and Emanuele Pirro, the latter having won last year with Frank Biela in the R10’s Road America debut.
“Road America is a fantastic track that has some very fast sections,” McNish said. “It is demanding and you need to be quite courageous. In view of the way the season’s been running up until now, we are very hungry for success.”
McNish, the defending Series P1 co-champion with Dindo Capello, was a little more than a second ahead of the third-place car of Penske Motorsports’ Sascha Maassen in the first of Penske’s two Porsche RS Spyders from the LMP2 class. Penske and Porsche have won the last five overall races by taking advantage of their nimbleness and lighter weight on tighter, twister tracks than Road America.
Maassen, nearly a second under last year’s class qualifying time, won last year at Road America with Timo Bernhard and has captured three class wins - two overall - with Ryan Briscoe. Porsches held the top four spots in class with Romain Dumas and Bernhard in second and the Dyson Racing entry of Butch Leitzinger and Andy Wallace third. The Andretti Green Racing Acura ARX of Bryan Herta and Marino Franchitti was the leading Acura entry.
In GT1, Oliver Gavin was first in class for Corvette Racing with a lap of 2:02.24 to edge out Jan Magnussen by more than a second. Gavin and Olivier Beretta are looking for their third Road America win in four seasons after finishing behind Johnny O’Connell - Magnussen’s teammate this year – and Ron Fellows in 2006.
Third in class was the Doran Racing Maserati MC12 of Didier Theys and Fredy Lienhard at 2:04.499.
Petersen Motorsports/White Lightning Racing’s Dirk Muller was the fastest driver in GT2 in his first visit to Road America. The Ferrari F430 GT posted a time of 2:09.492 for a 0.093-second cushion over Risi Competizione’s two Ferraris, the first of Mika Salo and Jaime Melo.
Panoz Team PTG’s Panoz Esperante GTLM of Bill Auberlen and Joey Hand sat fourth with the class-championship leading No. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 RSR in fifth. The top six cars in class were separated by less than a second.
The next round of the American Le Mans Series is the Generac 500 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisc. The four-hour race is scheduled for 4 p.m. CT on Saturday, August 11. American Le Mans Radio will have live coverage at americanlemans.com, which also will feature IMSA Live Timing & Scoring. NBC Sports will broadcast the race from 2:30-4:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, August 12.