Sebring: Audi UK Team Veloqx preview

Two-car Veloqx entry aims for fifth consecutive Sebring Audi victory Britain's new Audi team aims for a début victory when it contests the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in Florida on Saturday (20 March). A two-car Audi Sport UK Team...

Two-car Veloqx entry aims for fifth consecutive Sebring Audi victory

Britain's new Audi team aims for a début victory when it contests the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in Florida on Saturday (20 March). A two-car Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx entry is bidding to score the German manufacturer's fifth consecutive victory in the 52nd running of the historic American sportscar endurance event.

British quartet Jamie Davies, Johnny Herbert, Allan McNish and Guy Smith plus German duo Frank Biela and Pierre Kaffer campaign two Audi R8 sportscars for the Brackley, Northamptonshire based outfit. Former Le Mans 24 Hour race winners Biela (2000/01/02), Herbert (1991), McNish (1998) and Smith (2003) plus Audi sportscar "rookies" Davies and Kaffer will look to the annual Sebring race as a successful "dress rehearsal" in advance of this year's Le Mans race (12-13 June).

Both Audi R8 sportscars compete in 2002 specification and are powered by a 3.6-litre, twin-turbocharged V8 engine featuring FSI (petrol direct injection) fuel-saving technology with an organiser imposed restricted output of 550bhp.

The Audi R8 made its race début in the 2000 Sebring race and has gone on to become the most successful, "open top" sportscar of the modern day era. For the past four years, an Audi has started from pole-position and finished at least first and second in the Sebring race.

The Sebring 12 Hours is the oldest sportscar endurance race in the United States having begun in 1952. The 3.7-mile Sebring International Raceway, featuring 17 corners, is built on the site of a military training airfield. The race winner is expected to clock-up around 1,400-miles at an average speed in excess of 110mph.

Previous Sebring 12 Hour race winners include Stirling Moss, 50 years ago, Mike Hawthorn (1955) and Peter Collins (1958). Herbert (2002) was the last British driver to win - in an Audi - one of only two "Brits" to sample success in the last 20 years.

Triple Le Mans winner Biela will be looking for his fifth consecutive "pole" start and would join Mario Andretti (US), Phil Hill (US), Olivier Gendebien (Bel) and Hans Stuck Jnr (Ger) as the race's most successful driver if he achieved his third Sebring victory.

Audi R8 - #28

Frank Biela (D). Age: 39. Born: Neuss, Germany. Lives: Monte Carlo, Monaco:

"I will be racing in the DTM (German Touring Car Masters) for Audi again this year and so only have the opportunity to race the Audi R8 at Sebring and Le Mans. Both of these races are 'classic' sportscar races and I would love to win them again - especially for my new Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx outfit. Sebring was the venue of my first sportscar victory - four years ago."

Pierre Kaffer (D). Age 27. Born: Bad-Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, Germany. Lives: Burgbrohl, Germany:

"The full circuit will be completely new to me - although I did jog around the full track. I have tested a Champ car around the short Sebring circuit but the 12 Hours event will throw up many new things for me - first race in a prototype, first race for Audi, first race at Sebring. I just want to do a very good job for Audi and myself"

Allan McNish (GB). Age: 34. Born: Dumfries, Scotland. Lives: Monte Carlo, Monaco:

"I've only driven once before at Sebring, finishing second to the 'factory' Audi team's 'sister' R8 four years ago. Our car led for much of the race but a minor brake issue and damaged head light during the night, caused delays. Sebring is unique, a very bumpy airfield circuit that hasn't changed too much. The likelihood is the race will be run in humid conditions making it very physical."

Audi R8 - #88

Jamie Davies (GB). Age 30. Born / Lives: Yeovil, England:

"Having raced at Sebring last year, I'm really happy to be going back with the track fresh in my mind - I won't lose time reacquainting myself with the track layout which can put you back. Driving an Audi R8 there will be tremendous and although I haven't done many miles in the car, I feel victory is possible."

Johnny Herbert (GB). Age 39. Born: Brentwood, England. Lives: Monte Carlo, Monaco:

"Our ultimate 2004 goal is victory at Le Mans but Sebring will enable the team and drivers to gel. Of course it would be a great start if we enjoyed success at Sebring but it will be very tough. It's a very demanding track and the race features a big entry although I love having to overtake cars. Without question, the Champion Audi will be our team's biggest threat."

Guy Smith (GB). Age 28. Born / Lives: Beverley, England:

"Sebring is a very challenging circuit - especially getting a car to 'ride' the bumps but the Audi R8 is such a 'comfortable' car to drive. My best Sebring finish was a third in 2002 and I am confident I have the equipment to go there and win. The Audi R8 will be the class of the field and although Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx is a new team, I'm convinced a top result is achievable."

Sam Li, Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx - Team Principal:

"The team worked through a crucial seven day preparation event at Road Atlanta last month and this exercise also served as an opportunity for our highly experienced and professional team members to bond. A three hour race simulation for both cars completed the programme, ensuring that everyone can work perfectly under pressure at Sebring."

David Ingram, Audi UK - Motorsport Manager:

"Our successful test in Atlanta has given everyone the chance to get familiar with the car, and each other. We are now going to Sebring confident that we are in a good position to run a highly competitive race. We know that the similar Champion Audi R8 will be very strong, so I think it's all shaping up for an exciting battle."

-audi uk-

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Johnny Herbert , Allan McNish , Guy Smith , Frank Biela , Jamie Davies , Peter Collins , Phil Hill , Mario Andretti , Stirling Moss , Pierre Kaffer