TRG Announce 2004 Le Mans Driver Lineup -- Nielsen, Donaldson and Fisken to Tackle Le Sarthe Sonoma, CA, April 16, 2004 -- TRG today announced its driver and sponsor lineup for the 2004 24 Heures du Mans, the most famous endurance race in the ...
TRG Announce 2004 Le Mans Driver Lineup -- Nielsen, Donaldson and Fisken to Tackle Le Sarthe
Sonoma, CA, April 16, 2004 -- TRG today announced its driver and sponsor lineup for the 2004 24 Heures du Mans, the most famous endurance race in the world. The team will run for the third consecutive year at the historic track. Lars Nielsen, a Dane whose legion of fans nicknamed him "Wheelspin" Nielsen from his days of Formula Vee and GTP sports car racing, will rejoin TRG after a successful run at this year's Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, in which he finished 7th in class. He will be joined by longtime sports car and historic racers Ian Donaldson and Gregor Fisken, both Scots who recently finished 9th in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in a TRG Porsche. All three drivers will see Le Mans for the first time from the cockpit of the #81 Monster Cable/TRG Porsche 911 GT3 RSR in the traditional test day at Le Mans on April 25, 2004. Monster Cable will, for the third consecutive year, sponsor the team as they drive the famous race.
Lars, Ian and Gregor all will fulfill lifetime dreams of driving at Le Mans when they start the grueling race on June 12, but for different and very personal reasons.
Lars Nielsen, who when not racing cars keeps a busy schedule as a partner in the stunningly beautiful Maldivian One and Only Kanuhura Resort, and he and his family are the Danish importers of Porsche, Lamborghini, Bentley, Volkswagen, Audi, Seat and Skoda cars, reflected on nearing achieving his dream of Le Mans.
"Ever since I was a little boy," he said, "I collected all the old Le Mans posters with all the old Porsches -- 904s, 908s, 917s and 962s -- ever since the 1960s, it's been my dream to be one of the guys on the poster. Now that I've driven the 24 Hours of Daytona, Le Mans is the one race I have a craving for. I'm excited about the preparation, the intensity and the teamwork; running at Le Mans isn't something where the team breezes in and out, there's immense work and it's not all over quickly, like a sprint race is. It's the ultimate long distance race. The track itself is one of the five most famous tracks in Europe, and having raced at Nurburgring, Spa, Silverstone and Monza, I'm thrilled to tackle this one next."
A meticulous individual, Lars prides himself on preparation, and is readying himself for racing at Le Mans by studying up on the course and the history of the event. "I'm working through every piece of information I can find, " he said, "and am currently reading the book 'Filming at Speed', about the making of Steve McQueen's movie. I'm getting a feeling for the place, and I 've been doing film sessions, trying to analyze the in-car footage I've got from the circuit. I can't wait to get on the surface for the first time and get a real feel for the place."
Ian Donaldson has an extensive racing resume spanning road and tarmac rallying and circuit racing on the world's toughest circuits in the world's fastest cars -- a Porsche 962, Jaguar D Type, Ferrari 250 SWB among them. He won the 1998 FIA Endurance Championship in an E36 BMW M3. Ian has raced famous circuits such as at Ypres, Bathurst and Spa and has completed in excess of 500 laps of the famed Nurburgring, finishing the hellish 24 Hour race three times in nine starts.
Ian said, "Over the years I've raced most things, motocross, rallying, historic cars and more recently GTs and the one race I just have to do is Le Mans. It been an ambition of mine to reach the pinnacle of sports car racing and Le Mans is that pinnacle. Add to this a chance to go to this great event with a team like The Racers Group, and it was an opportunity not to be missed. Having driven 15 24 hour races already, including Nurburgring, Spa, Bathurst and Sicily where we won outright, Le Mans just had to be on the menu."
Gregor Fisken, whose name is renowned in worldwide rare automobile circles, operates Gregor Fisken Fine Automobiles, perhaps the world's most well respected brokerage for historic and concours-quality automobiles. From its showroom on Queens Gate Place in London, Gregor's firm handles the acquisition and sale of the world's foremost fine historic automobiles, from former Mille Miglia Ferraris to Le Mans Bentley racers. Gregor is a regular on the European historic racing circuit, and has had many successes on tracks as varied as Goodwood and Monaco. In addition to the 24 Hour race this year, he will return to race the Le Mans Classic, a gathering of some of the most acclaimed and rare cars to race Le Mans, in a 1965 Iso Bizzarrini.
"My desire to race at Le Mans started at the age of 9, when I went to the Le Mans 24 Hours with my family; my father driving all the way from Scotland in a 1929 Bentley Speed 6. I sat in the back of the car on the parade lap, we were doing over 100mph down the Mulsanne Straight and from that moment I knew that I had to do the race for real one day. A few years ago, I raced an Iso Bizzarrini at the historic meeting and this just reinforced my resolve to do the 24 Hour race," Gregor said.
Team owner Kevin Buckler, himself a class winner at Le Mans in 2002, will continue his role as team strategist and acting manager as he guides his team through its third attempt at the Circuit Le Sarthe. "Our first year here was a fast paced, intensely focused effort," he said, "but all of the situations and surroundings were new to us. It all happened so fast that we didn't have time to fully appreciate the magnitude and history of the place, and what we had done. Last year, we concentrated on learning the details of Le Mans from front to back. We really studied for this year's event, and we 're ready to provide these three exceptional drivers with the chance to run this beautiful circuit with all the details completely sorted out. Lars, Gregor and Ian have earned the right to drive here, and we're going to raise the bar in terms of preparation, presentation and our driver and sponsor experience at the race this year. While I'd love to drive at Le Mans again this year, I'm learning that my skills managing the team and helping with race strategy are invaluable assets to the team, and I'm happy to work in that capacity -- for now."
He continued, "It's such an immense amount of work to come here, but it's made worthwhile when you look out over the sea of spectators and fans at the driver's parade on Friday, and the buzz of the pits and the absolutely packed grandstands at the start of the race. The entire place comes alive -- there's no other place like it in the world, and TRG is honored to take its place in history here."
The official test day for the 2004 24 Hours of Le Mans is April 25, 2004. The race runs from June 12-13 this year, and will be broadcast in the US on Speed Channel, and in Europe on EuroSport.
For the latest news and event photos, visit www.theracersgroup.com
Gregor Fisken is today internationally acknowledged as the foremost dealer in fine historic automobiles. Having founded the business in the difficult days of 1991 the company has gone from strength to strength with an annual turnover measured in millions and a reputation that is second to none.
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