Johansson Racing will campaign one privateer Audi R8 in the full ELMS Series and also enter the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The day-to-day operation and all racing activities will be managed by Mike Earle's Arena International Motorsport, which most recently competed in the BTCC.
Stefan Johansson is also pleased to welcome his new partners English businessmen Peter Tarrant and Richard Allen who have joined Stefan to assist with the development of the European based team, that has plans to become one of the major forces in sports car racing.
Stefan Johansson will be the leading driver for the campaign and negotiations are on going with several drivers to complete the line up, which will be announced shortly.
One of the most exciting aspects of the new program is the return of Gulf Oil, one of the legendary sponsors of International Sportscar Racing and particularly the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Gulf Oil has traditionally supported well managed and equipped privateer entrants and the combination of an Audi R8, Stefan Johansson and Mike Earle proved to be the ideal combination for their return to International Sportscar Racing in the centenary year of the company.
The team will make their first public appearance at the Sebring 12 Hours on March the 17th, undertaking the initial testing at the Florida circuit in the week prior to the event.
Stefan Johansson said "I have worked very hard to put this program together since late last year and although it is quite late we have secured a fantastic package which will be very competitive. Due to the complexity and time constraints of setting up a new operation in Europe I decided to contact Mike Earle as his Arena International is one of the very best operations going, and they have all the experience we will need to get the best out of the Audi R8. Securing Gulf as a partner for this program is fantastic, they have an amazing history in Sportscar Racing and I am really looking forward to carrying their colours this year, they have a huge heritage of success and we are certainly aiming to repeat this. We really could not ask for better partners, Mike and I have worked together in Formula One and Gulf really understand what racing and winning is all about so I am sure we will have a very good year."
Mike Earle said " We looked at several opportunities in both sports and touring car racing for the 2001 season, but when the chance came to work with Stefan, Audi and Gulf it soon became clear that this was the way forward. I believe Sportscar Racing has a great future, the ELMS is a well promoted and managed series and the 24 Hours of Le Mans is still the greatest single race in the world."
Reza Rashidian of Gulf Oil " Gulf is very proud to be joining Johansson Motorsport, Stefan is one of the greats, he has raced in Formula One, won the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Sebring 12 Hours. The Audi R8 is absolutely the best car we could use and Arena will provide us with the level of professionalism needed to be successful in our return to International Sportscar Racing."