Notes of Interest 2003-04-15

American Le Mans Series Notes of Interest. ** PK SPORT TEAM TO RUN FULL ALMS SEASON -- The PK Sport team, based in the United Kingdom, has announced that it will contest the full American Le Mans Series schedule in 2003. With backing from ...

American Le Mans Series Notes of Interest.

** PK SPORT TEAM TO RUN FULL ALMS SEASON -- The PK Sport team, based in the United Kingdom, has announced that it will contest the full American Le Mans Series schedule in 2003. With backing from Pirelli and support from Porsche Motorsport North America, PK Sport will campaign a pair of Porsche 911 GT3 RS machines in the GT class.

Robin Liddell, who drove for PK Sport in the season-opening Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, and will also drive in the upcoming 24 Hours of Le Mans, will return to America with the team in June to contest the remaining eight races of the ALMS. The Scottish driver will be joined by Vic Rice of San Rafael, Calif., and Eliseo Salazar of Chile, along with a fourth driver to be named.

Mike Pickup, team principle for PK Sport, spent two days at Porsche Motorsport in Germany and emerged from the meetings with the decision to run the team in the remainder of the ALMS season.

"I am delighted to have secured support allowing the team to follow up Sebring and contest the whole series with a very strong driver lineup," he said. The team will operate from a base in the Atlanta area.

** FRANK BIELA RETURNS TO RACING ROOTS -- Audi factory driver Frank Biela, who started the 2003 season with the overall win in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, will return to his racing roots with some coaching and competition over the next few months.

The German driver, who now lives in Monaco, will return to racing in touring car competition when he drives an Abt-Audi TT-R in the Nurburgring 24 Hour race May 31-June 1. Biela, the 1991 German Touring Car (DTM) champion, will share the cockpit with Christian Abt and Mattias Ekstrom. In addition, he has been named driver coach for the German "stars of tomorrow" in the new Formula 3 Euroseries.

"It is something very special for me to be able to compete in this race with an Audi," said Biela, who warmed up for the event by contesting a round of the Endurance Championship this past weekend. "Obviously I'll have to reacquaint myself with a touring car after so many sports car races. However, I'm convinced that I'll get used to having a roof over my head again very quickly."

Within a two-week period, Biela will compete in two 24-hour races, as he will drive an Audi R8 for Audi Sport UK in the 24 Hours of Le Mans June 14-15. Biela, Tom Kristensen and Emanuele Pirro were the overall winners of Le Mans the past three years, the only trio of drivers ever to win three straight, but they will not be together this year. Pirro will drive an Audi R8 for ADT Champion Racing and Kristensen will be with Team Bentley.

The coaching position is a way of Biela giving back to racing, as he competed in Formula 3 at the beginning of his successful career. "I'm really delighted to be taking on this role and hope that I can give the guys some useful support here and there," he said. "The Euroseries is a fabulous idea. The top drivers from throughout Europe are involved; wins in this series will be of great value in the future."

Biela will return to America in June to complete the 2003 American Le Mans Series with co-driver Marco Werner for Infineon Team Joest.

** MILKA DUNO IN LONG BEACH AND MAXIM -- American Le Mans Series driver Milka Duno competed in the professional category in the annual Toyota Celebrity Challenge event as part of this past weekend's Long Beach Grand Prix. The Venezuelan driver is also the subject of a brief feature article in the April issue of "Maxin En Espanol" magazine. She is pictured with a Panoz LMP01 show car in the magazine.

At Long Beach, Duno qualified second in the pro category, but took the lead on the first lap of the race. She led for six laps, more than half of the 10-lap event, before being bumped twice and falling back to third, where she eventually finished.

"It's a great event," said Duno. "I had the chance to meet, practice and race with some very popular and wonderful people. Everything about the preparation for the race and the race weekend is first class. And the best thing about it is that it benefits the children's hospital of Long Beach."

Duno, who drove for three different teams in ALMS competition last year, is still working on putting together a deal to return to the series when racing resumes in June.

** ALMS RETURNS TO ACTION IN JUNE -- The 2003 American Le Mans Series championship schedule will resume with the running of the Atlanta Grand Prix at Road Atlanta June 27-29.

Many of the teams in the series will be competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France. The teams will be at Le Mans for the traditional Pre-Practice Day on Sunday, May 4, and will return for the race June 14-15.

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Series ALMS
Drivers Milka Duno , Tom Kristensen , Frank Biela , Eliseo Salazar , Robin Liddell , Christian Abt , Marco Werner , Vic Rice , Emanuele Pirro