** Tom Kristensen has been named as the replacement for departing Allan McNish on the American Le Mans Series championship-winning Audi R8 team for the 2001 season, Audi officials announced on Tuesday.
Kristensen will join returnees Rinaldo Capello, Emanuele Pirro and Frank Biela as Audi tries to win its second straight ALMS title in the Prototype class. The Danish-born driver, who now lives in Monaco, is no stranger to ALMS competition, having raced with the Audi team in longer-distance races this season. Kristensen, 33, was part of the team that won at Sebring in 1999 and 2000, and was also a winner at Le Mans in 1997.
McNish, who has all but clinched the ALMS driver's championship for 2000, will leave the team after the Dec. 31 Adelaide, Australia, season finale to drive for the new Toyota Formula One effort.
The naming of Kristensen was part of an overall announcement by Audi that it will continue to field two cars in the ALMS and will also go after a second straight win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans next June.
"I am delighted that we will tackle Le Mans and the ALMS again next year," said Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, Head of Audi Sport. "The Le Mans classic is a very special challenge which becomes even bigger any time you go there."
The award-winning Audi R8 will undergo detail modifications for next season. "This year's vehicle concept still has a lot of potential that we will capitolize on by intensive fine tuning," said Dr. Ullrich. "We will endeavor to continue the winning performances of the Audi R8 next year."
Laurent Aiello and Michele Aloboreto will join the other four drivers for Le Mans, as well as Sebring and the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.
"The U.S. market is especially important for Audi," said Dr. Ullrich. "The feedback after our successes in the ALMS is extremely positive. Therefore, it is logical for Audi of America to continue their engagement by trying to defend the title."
** Canadian John Graham has been announced as a driver for Dick Barbour Racing in the Dec. 31 Race of a Thousand Years at Adelaide. Graham will join Mexican Randy Wars and a third driver to be named in the #15 Barbour Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R in the GT class.
Regular Barbour Racing drivers Lucas Luhr, Dirk Muller, Bob Wollek and Sascha Maassen will pilot the other two cars entered by the team.
Graham, a winner in the 2000 24 Hours of Le Mans in the LMP 675 class, currently drives for Multimatic Motorsports out of his hometown of Toronto. In his past 10 racing starts, he has earned five podium finishes, including the Le Mans win and third place in the 12 Hours at Sebring. He was also second in the GTS class at Daytona.
"I'm extremely pleased to become part of such a high-caliber and dedicated team," said Graham. "I look forward to competing in Australia and I can't imagine a more stellar end to a great season."
"John's competitive ability and racing spirit is a definite positive addition to our effort," said Barbour. "I look forward to racing with him in what is sure to be a great test of driver skill and engineering endurance."
** Cindi Lux, the 1999 champion of the Women's Global GT Series, recently finished fifth overall in a 12-hour endurance race at Thunder Hill, Calif. She and her co-drivers competed in a Porsche 911 RSA and got as high as third during the race.
Lux was behind the wheel for 5.5 hours on the 3.7-mile circuit.
"It was just a plain, old-fashioned fun race," said Lux, whose racing plans for 2001 are undecided. "It's always good to stay in racing shape during the off-season. A 12-hour race is perfect for that. I got a lot of seat time, had to do numerous pit stops, driver changes and things like that which are important to practice."
Lux competed in one ALMS event in 2000, the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. She hopes to run more events on the series in 2001.
** ALMS cars will be on the circuit at Adelaide for the first time on Friday, Dec. 29, for practice, while qualifying will be held on Saturday, Dec. 30. The six-hour race starts at 4 p.m. (Adelaide time) on Sunday.
The race will be televised in the United States by NBC Sports on a same-day, tape-delay basis at 2 p.m. (Eastern time), and Eurosport will have live coverage. The American Le Mans Series Radio Web will have live coverage online at www.americanlemans.com.
** One of the most significant awards that will be presented at the ALMS awards ceremony in Adelaide on Jan. 1 will be the second annual "From The Fans" award. Fans of the American Le Mans Series have the opportunity to vote online at www.americanlemans.com.
The voting is for the person who has done the most for sports car racing during the 2000 season. The name of the recipient will remain a closely-guarded secret until being revealed during the awards ceremony.
The recipient of the first award in 1999 was ALMS founder Don Panoz.
** Fans of the American Le Mans Series and sports car racing also have the opportunity to vote for the Sports Car Driver of the Millennium, and the Sports Car of the Millennium. The poll is being conducted on the ALMS website at www.americanlemans.com.
The winners will be announced at the Australia race.
A feature of the online poll on the ALMS website will be soundbites with ALMS drivers, owners and team managers talking about their choices in the two categories.
QUICK NOTES: Dodge Viper Team ORECA has named Jean-Philippe Belloc of France and Ni Amorim of Portugal as drivers of its #92 car for the Adelaide race. In addition, Dominique Dupuy of France will join regular drivers Olivier Beretta and Karl Wendlinger in the #91 ORECA machine
.... Popular musical group Placebo will be a supporter of the new MIM Prototype 675 team of Jamie Wall, Michael Mallock and Jim Cornish at Adelaide. The group will be promoting its new album via the race car as well as an Australian tour that begins in January .... Allen Bestwick, award-winning motorsports announcer for NBC Sports, will be the Master of Ceremonies for the ALMS awards banquet in Adelaide on Jan. 1 .... Audrey Zavodsky, who competed on the WGGTS in 1999 and 2000, was a special guest at the recent grand opening of an indoor karting facility in Michigan. After racing in numerous eight-lap sessions with attendees, she autographed the timer printouts for each guest .... ALMS GT driver Kevin Buckler will join fellow GT competitor Johannes van Overbeek as participants in the Holiday Sobriety Challenge at Sears Point Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., on Dec. 14. The challenge is being held to raise awareness of the dangers of drunk driving, particularly during the Holiday season ....