McNish, Audi UK team test at Road Atlanta

Audi UK Team Veloqx Shakes Down at Road Atlanta; McNish Back in Audi Prototype. BRASELTON, Ga. (February 18, 2004) -- The all-star driving lineup of Audi UK Team Veloqx got on the race track for the first time today as the team tested its two...

Audi UK Team Veloqx Shakes Down at Road Atlanta; McNish Back in Audi Prototype.

BRASELTON, Ga. (February 18, 2004) -- The all-star driving lineup of Audi UK Team Veloqx got on the race track for the first time today as the team tested its two Audi R8 Prototypes at Road Atlanta in preparation for next month's Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx drivers Pierre Kaffer, Allan McNish, Frank Biela, Johnny Herbert, Jamie Davies and Guy Smith.
Photo by Regis Lefebure.
The team, which recently completed its lineup by adding former Formula One drivers Allan McNish and Johnny Herbert, will test for three days at Road Atlanta before moving its cars and equipment to Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway for the Mar. 17-20 event, the first race of the 2004 American Le Mans Series season.

The test puts McNish, the 2000 champion of the ALMS, back in an Audi R8 for the first time since winning the ALMS season-ending race at Adelaide, Australia, on December 31, 2000. He has spent the past three seasons in Formula One racing.

"This test is critical for me personally and also for the team because it's been now quite a few years since I've driven the Prototype," said Scotland's McNish. "The Audi and F1 cars are different and I've got to get that feeling back. I've got to get the understanding of even silly things, like this (Audi) has got slick tires, I've been used to grooved tires. From my point of view, it's important to test, but from the team and that jelling aspect of it, it's critical.

"I loved my time in the American Le Mans Series and I'm glad to be back," he said.

Other members of the driving team are Germany's Frank Biela, the 2003 co-champion of the ALMS and a two-time Sebring winner, along with Jamie Davies and Guy Smith of England and Pierre Kaffer of Germany.

Biela, who won the ALMS title last year and is a two-time Sebring winner, was limping around the paddock on a badly-sprained ankle. A notorious chain-smoker during the past five years of racing on the ALMS, Biela gave up cigarettes January 1 and stepped up his fitness program, but injured his ankle while jogging last week. Though he will spend the majority of the 2004 season racing in Europe, Biela will be with the Audi UK team for Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans and welcomed the addition of McNish, his former Audi factory teammate in 2000.

Jamie Davies in the Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx Audi R8.
Photo by Regis Lefebure.

"It's definitely a great thing to have him back in the car," said Biela, who was only participating in the test on Wednesday. "He did a fantastic job when he was with Audi and I think there's no doubt he's going to do a brilliant job this year. I'm happy to have him in the car."

England's Herbert spent the past three seasons in the ALMS with ADT Champion Racing and was a four-time race winner in 2003. He did not renew with the American-based Champion team for 2004 and, at this point, will race with the Audi UK team at Sebring and Le Mans but has no firm driving commitments for the remainder of the season. "It will give me a chance to do some different things, like some television broadcasting," he said.

"But we're all going to work very, very hard with this race team," he said. "It will be great working with Allan, but with the rest of the guys we've got as well. We have a good chance of success but I think everyone knows that there's a lot of strong other teams out there. We've got to get the best from all of us at the end of the day. If we have one little piece missing, we're going to lose out."

The 52nd annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring will get the green flag at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 20, and will be televised live from flag-to-flag by the Speed Channel. The American Le Mans Series Radio Web will have live coverage online at www.americanlemans.com.

Ticket information is available online at www.sebringraceway.com or by calling (863) 655-1442 (toll-free 800-626-RACE).

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Series ALMS
Drivers Johnny Herbert , Allan McNish , Guy Smith , Frank Biela , Jamie Davies , Pierre Kaffer