Audi, Audi, Audi on the Podium at Le Mans!
LE MANS, France (June 13, 2004) - Team ADT Champion Racing proudly claimed third position at the conclusion of today's 72nd running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in Le Sarthe, France. This was only the team's third trip to the most famous historic race dating back to 1923.
In 2003, Team ADT Champion Racing, supported by Audi Sport North America, finished third behind the two Bentley works cars. This year, all three "customer teams" once again rewarded Audi with a podium sweep.
Come 4:00 pm Sunday, Team ADT Champion had worked themselves up from 41st position into third after an unavoidable incident occurred just two hours into the race. On lap 30, the #2 Champion Audi and the #8 Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx cars skidded through some oil and both cars sustained considerable damage to the cars upon impact. The Champion Crew repaired the car in a rapid 31 minutes and gave the drivers as good a car after the impact as it was before.
"The thing I'm most proud of is how fantastic my team performed," said Brad Kettler, Technical Director for Champion Racing. "Every time we did a pit stop they just got better and better. It was just a finger of fate that got us this time. The preparation the men made to get the car in the race and to have all the spares prepared, only proves how great they are. The hit the car took in the beginning was huge and it came back from it just as strong as it was before. The car was a player and we were as fast as anybody all day."
Vice President of Audi of America, Axel Mees agreed. "The Champion Racing Team exhibited very high standards and should have been #1. Congratulations to a job well done. Audi of America is proud to be associated with such a professional team as well Dave Maraj's Audi dealership in Florida."
Team ADT Champion Racing returns to the American Le Mans Series at Mid-Ohio June 25-27. The race will be televised live by CBS Sports in North America and MotorsTV in Europe and will be broadcast live by the American Le Mans Series Radio Web online at www.americanlemans.com.
JJ Lehto (Finland): "Well, we thought after last year being third that we could do a little bit better this year. For sure we would have been able to do better. It's just the accident and the oil that changed the whole thing. Being 41st after the accident, fixing the car, going out again, fighting through the field, finishing third, we can do better. I have to say that the team made sure we had everything we needed for the race: the parts, the practice, the preparation. They really made sure they had enough of everything. The team was the reason we got third today." This is the third podium finish for the 24 Hours of Le Mans for JJ Lehto.
Marco Werner (Germany): "I feel great about today's result. After the big accident, first it's important that JJ is okay, and at that moment I thought we would never be back in the race and now that we are on the podium, for me, it's great. Normally we come to win but to finish third after this trouble in the beginning of the race, it's very nice. The team did a great job. The car was very damaged but they did a great job to give us a really good car, a fast car, and a safe car which is really important at Le Mans. We did good lap times in the night and we were very quickly back in the top ten, and then we finished third. For me, it's great!" This is the second 24 Hours of Le Mans Podium for Marco Werner.
Emanuele Pirro (Italy): "I think this is a major achievement for us considering the accident we had early on. The incident between JJ (Lehto) and Allan (McNish) shows just how close we race. It's really good we brought 3rd place home for Team ADT Champion Racing. I would like to give all the credit to the team as they had to rebuild the car early on. They proved just how good a team they are by rebuilding the car so quickly and keeping it as competitive as it was before. Having said that I'm a little disappointed because we had the potential to win and I was hoping to do so." This is the sixth 24 Hours of Le Mans podium for Emanuele Pirro.