BRASELTON, Ga - After a reluctant absence of two years, one of the most popular and successful drivers in the history of professional sports car racing will be returning to American Le Mans Series competition in the season-ending Petit Le Mans Oct.
BRASELTON, Ga - After a reluctant absence of two years, one of the most popular and successful drivers in the history of professional sports car racing will be returning to American Le Mans Series competition in the season-ending Petit Le Mans Oct. 15-18 at Road Atlanta.
Hans Stuck, whose world-class racing career is still going strong past his 50th birthday, will pick up where he left off, returning to the scene of his last American Le Mans Series race and victory. And he will also be driving for the same racing team and with the same two co-drivers he was with when he won the GT class in the 2001 running of the Petit Le Mans.
Stuck, a native of Germany who lives in Austria, will co-drive with Californians Boris Said and Bill Auberlen in a reunion with Prototype Technology Group in a BMW E46. In a celebration of the 25th anniversary of its ADVAN brand, Yokohama Rubber Company of Japan (parent company of U.S.-based Yokohama Tire Corporation) will sponsor the Petit Le Mans effort.
"I have missed it," said Stuck of racing in the American Le Mans Series, where he was a regular competitor from the formation of the series in 1999 and has four career wins. "I love long-distance racing where the whole team has to perform to the utmost, and I love racing in traffic with lots of different cars."
The Petit Le Mans, which will close the fifth season of the American Le Mans Series, will cover 1,000 miles or 10 hours, whichever comes first, on the 2.54-mile Road Atlanta circuit. Four classes of ALMS cars will compete in the event, ranging from the sleek and ultra-fast Prototypes to the production-based GT cars.
Considered one of racing's great characters, Stuck has been hugely popular with fans and other drivers throughout his long career. Showing his heritage, he yodels on the podium after every race win, and is usually asked to repeat the performance in post-race press conferences.
"To win the Petit Le Mans two years ago meant a lot to me because it was another important win in one of the most famous long-distance races," said Stuck, whose racing resume includes overall wins in both the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 12 Hours of Sebring.
"Our target for this year is a podium finish," he said. "It will be very difficult because the team and the drivers have not had much practice in this kind of format for quite a long time. Also our car is pretty new in this configuration and did not undergo a lot of testing. But PTG is famous for out-of-the-box preparations so we will see."
The son of a famous European racer, Stuck's celebrated career includes a stint in Formula One racing for five seasons in the 1970s. He has competed in nearly every major form of road racing in the United States and abroad and has been a winner in almost all. He won six major championships between 1985 and 1993, the latest being the IMSA Supercar title in 1993 with seven consecutive race wins. His other titles include the German Touring Car title in 1990, the German Supercup Series title in 1986 and 1987 and the FIA Sportscar World Championship in 1985 and 1986.
He had consecutive victories at Le Mans in 1986 and 1987 and was the Sebring overall winner in 1975, 1986 and 1988. Stuck also represented road racing in the International Race of Champions (IROC) in 1986.
The Petit Le Mans will get the green flag at 11:30 a.m. (ET) on Saturday, Oct. 18. Practice, qualifying and support series races will be held beginning Wednesday, Oct. 15. Ticket information is available from Road Atlanta by calling 1-800-849-7223 or online at www.roadatlanta.com.
Live television coverage of the event on the SPEED Channel begins with a pre-race show at 11 a.m. (ET). The American Le Mans Series Radio Web will have a live broadcast online at www.americanlemans.com.