Bentley Prototype to make American debut at Sebring; stellar driver lineup anchored by Kristensen, Capello.
BRASELTON, Ga. (January 7, 2003) -- The much-anticipated North American racing debut of the Bentley Speed 8 in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring took more form this week with the announcement of a stellar driving lineup for the first of two entries for Team Bentley in America's oldest sports car race.
Defending American Le Mans Series champion Tom Kristensen will lead the three-driver squad of "Bentley Boys" in the Sebring event, which will kick off the 2003 American Le Mans Series season Mar. 13-15. Kristensen, from Denmark, will be joined by his Audi co-driver from the past two years, Rinaldo "Dindo" Capello of Italy, as well as veteran driver Guy Smith of England.
The three will also race together in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. The driver lineup for the second Bentley, which will also race at both Sebring and Le Mans, has not yet been announced.
Kristensen and Capello are both two-time winners at Sebring, but have never raced in the famed event as teammates. Capello, who has more Prototype wins in the four-year history of the American Le Mans Series than any other driver, has been on the winning team the past two years at Sebring. Kristensen has four wins in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, including the last three years in a row, and Capello has been the fastest qualifier the past two years. Smith finished fourth at Sebring in 2001 and drove for Bentley at Le Mans that same year. He has been Bentley's test driver.
After an absence from racing of 71 years, Bentley returned with an entry at Le Mans in 2001 and finished third. The beautiful closed-roof Prototype race car also competed in the French endurance racing classic in 2002 and finished fourth. The participation in Sebring will mark the first time that a factory Bentley has raced in the United States since an entry in the Indianapolis 500 in 1922. The Bentley entries, which will be sponsored by Breitling, will run on Michelin tires at Sebring and Le Mans for the first time.
The Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring will start at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 15, at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway. Ticket information is available online at www.sebringraceway.com or by calling (863) 655-1442, or toll-free in Florida (800) 626-RACE. Four classes of American Le Mans Series cars will compete in the event, and some 60 cars are expected to take the green flag.
The race will be televised live from flag-to-flag by the SPEED Channel, with live coverage by the American Le Mans Series Radio Web online at www.americanlemans.com.