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Audi locks out front row for WEC 6 Hours of Nurburgring

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Audi made the most of damp conditions in qualifying to lock out the front row for Sunday’s FIA World Endurance Championship round at the Nurburgring.

Running with its new high downforce aero kit for this weekend’s race, Audi ran 2015 Nurburgring winners Porsche close in practice on Friday.

A damp but drying track left Audi and Porsche to scrap for pole with Toyota lurking just behind, making the timing of laps and tire strategy crucial.

The no. 7 Audi R18 may be a man light this weekend after Benoit Treluyer was ruled out through injury, but Marcel Fassler and Andre Lotterer were still able to produce two emphatic laps to clinch pole on home soil for the German marque.

A two-lap average of 1:39.444 between the pair was enough to secure their second pole of the season, heading up a one-two finish for Audi.

Lucas di Grassi posted the fastest time of the session in the no. 8 Audi R18, going half a second quicker than Lotterer’s best lap, but a slower effort from Oliver Jarvis meant they fell two-tenths of a second shy of pole.

Porsche was left to settle for P3 and P4 on the grid, the no. 1 919 Hybrid shared by Mark Webber and Timo Bernhard in qualifying finishing four-tenths off Audi’s pole time. The sister no. 2 car was just three-hundredths of a second further back in P4.

Toyota ailed to fifth and sixth in LMP1, finishing over a second behind Audi at the top, but as witnessed at Le Mans, the race pace of the TS050 Hybrid car is to be reckoned with.

LMP2 qualifying followed the form from practice as G-Drive Racing continued its perfect pole record in 2016. A rapid final lap from Rene Rast was almost a second quicker than any other driver in class, giving G-Drive a buffer of 0.7 seconds over the no. 36 Signatech Alpine crew in second place. British squad Strakka Racing qualified third, less than a tenth away from a place on the front row.

Aston Martin Racing picked up its maiden GTE Pro pole as Nicki Thiim and Marco Sørensen set the pace, recording a two-lap average of 2:01.712 in the Vantage V8. The no. 66 Ford GT shared by Stefan Mucke and Olivier Pla finished two-tenths further back in P2, with the second AMR entry qualifying third in class.

It proved to be a good day for Porsche entries in GTE Am was Abu Dhabi Proton Racing and KCMG locked out the front row in class, both running Porsche 911 RSRs. The former took pole by less than two-tenths of a second, with a rapidly drying track handing the initiative to those running later in the session.

The FIA WEC 6 Hours of Nurburgring kicks off at 1pm local time in Germany on Sunday.

Female racer makes history with record finishes in dirt national midget events

Photo courtesy Toyota Racing
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Holly Shelton is riding high after setting a milestone for a female driver in a national midget series feature event on dirt this past weekend.

The Sacramento, California-area resident recorded the highest finish ever for a female dirt national midget series driver with a runner-up finish last Friday at the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League double-header weekend at Valley Speedway in Grain Valley, Missouri.

Shelton broke her own national record for top finish by a woman in a national dirt event – she finished third in a USAC race at Lawrenceburg, Indiana, last year.

One night after setting her new national record, Shelton and her Keith Kunz Motorsports Toyota roared back Saturday to finish third (started on the outside pole) in the second half of the weekend double-header, making her the first female dirt driver ever on the national midget circuit to earn back-to-back podium finishes.

“It’s cool making history as a female, but my number one thing is I just want to win,” said Shelton, who will be graduating from Cal-State Sacramento with a B.A. in Criminal Justice this fall. “Truthfully, on the track I don’t even remember that I’m a girl. I’m just racing all the guys with the same goal they have – to win.”

Only one other woman has finished second in either a USAC or POWRi midget feature – Sarah McCune at Winchester (Ind.) Speedway in 1999 – but that was on pavement, not dirt.

The record-setting weekend was great consolation for Shelton, who missed three races earlier this season due to surgery and then sat out three other races last month after suffering a race-related concussion.

“It felt good,” she said of her back-to-back podium finishes. “It builds up my confidence. The car is fast and we keep getting better and we want to build on it.”

Shelton was one of four women that competed in midget competition this weekend. The others were 19-year-old Maria Cofer and 16-year-olds Holley Hollan and Presley Truedson.

“It’s awesome seeing all the little girls come up to me excited to see me at the track,” Shelton said. “Hopefully, it encourages them to pursue their dreams as well and, as the years go on, more girls will get into it.”

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