Audi to contest Le Mans Series

Audi has announced that will not only contest the Le Mans 24 Hours, but the entire Le Mans series in 2000. The North American International Motor Show in Detroit was the venue for Dr. Wolgang Urich, head of Audi Sport, to announce Audi's ...

Audi has announced that will not only contest the Le Mans 24 Hours, but the entire Le Mans series in 2000.

The North American International Motor Show in Detroit was the venue for Dr. Wolgang Urich, head of Audi Sport, to announce Audi's participation in the championship which concludes with Adelaide's Race of a Thousand Years on December 31 this year.

"The Le Mans Series provides attractive motorsport and we are extremely pleased to be able to fulfill the wish of Audi of America to compete there," he said.

"Our new car has been built by Audi Sport in record time. That was a great team effort.

"We definitely wanted to have the first proper roll-out early so we could start the test programme right at the beginning of the year."

Audi's campaign in the outright Prototype class will begin at the 12 Hours of Sebring in Florida on March 18 with a two car team overseen by multiple Le Mans 24 Hour winning outfit, Joest Racing.

While last year Audi campaigned two open-topped cars and two coupes at Le Mans, an open-topped design will be used exclusively this year.

The twin-turbo V8 powered car was tested before Christmas by Frank Biela - the Audi stalwart who teamed up with Australia's Brad Jones at Bathurst aboard an Audi Super Touring Car in 1997.

Biela was impressed with the new machine despite testing in freezing conditions.

"The car was super," he said. "It immediately felt right."

Biela is expected to be joined by ex-Formula One stars Michele Albereto and Emanuele Pirro - both former regular visitors to Adelaide aboard Grand Prix machinery.

Young stars Christian Abt, Rinaldo Capello and Tom Kristensen will also be on the driving squad, Kristensen dovetailing his program with a seat with Honda in the British Touring Car Championship.

Along with it's two car assault on the Le Mans series, Audi is expected to run up to six cars at the Le Mans 24 Hour race.

Adelaide¹s season ending "Race of a Thousand Years" will be run on New Years Eve, 2000. The six hour event will utilize the complete Adelaide Grand Prix circuit and be capped off by a major concert to welcome in the new year.

-PAUL RYAN-

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