Sebring: Taurus Sports preview

Formula One Pilot Justin Wilson Joins Miami GP Winner Milka Duno For Sebring, CITGO Racing and Taurus Sports Announce Sebring Program March 12, 2004 -- Recent Grand Prix of Miami overall winner Milka Duno will be joined by Formula One driver ...

Formula One Pilot Justin Wilson Joins Miami GP Winner Milka Duno For Sebring,
CITGO Racing and Taurus Sports Announce Sebring Program

March 12, 2004 -- Recent Grand Prix of Miami overall winner Milka Duno will be joined by Formula One driver Justin Wilson and sports car specialist Phil Andrews for the CITGO Racing / Taurus Sports 2004 Sebring effort. The 52nd running of the famed 12 Hours of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Florida will occur March 17-20, 2004.

Taurus Sports will field the CITGO-branded #15 Lola B2K/10/Judd LM1 Prototype for the once-around-the-clock endurance classic that has become one of the most legendary sports car endurance events in the world -- and the oldest sports car race in the United States.

Justin, known worldwide for his stellar efforts in the Minardi and his high profile transfer from Minardi to Jaguar Racing during his debut F1 season in 2003, is one of British motorsports hottest properties and the first Briton to win the prestigious FIA F3000 title -- in 2001. In winning the title, and leading the championship from the opening round, Justin finished the F3000 season with a point tally that broke Williams F1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya's record for points in a season, as well as setting a new record for number of podium finishes in a season -- 10 podiums in 12 races. It was these kinds of performances that impressed the F1 team bosses. This will be Justin's first race since stepping out of the Jaguar at last year's Japanese Grand Prix.

"It will be great fun to get back into a sportscar again," said Justin. "The opportunity to drive the CITGO Racing Taurus Sports Lola came along quite late, but I am looking forward to returning to Sebring for a second time. I know Milka just made history at Homestead and I'm looking forward to working with both her and Phil. I'm sure we can put on a competitive performance. I am treating this race as an opportunity to get race sharp for the up-coming season in open wheel cars and I am looking forward to getting out there."

Milka, certainly no stranger to the prestigious American Le Mans Series or 12 Hours of Sebring fans, was the first woman to ever pilot the fastest car in that series -- the LMP 900, and was the 2001 Vice-Champion in the ALMS LMP 675 category with 4 wins - including the prestigious Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.

Milka will hit the track at Sebring fresh from an overall win at the Rolex Sports Car Series Grand Prix of Miami at Homestead-Miami Speedway on February 28, 2004 with teammate Andy Wallace. The duo achieved the win in their Howard-Boss Motorsports #2 CITGO Pontiac Crawford DP03.

With this win Milka became the first woman to achieve an overall win in the Rolex Sports Car Series, as well as the first woman ever to win a major North American sports car race overall -- and the first women in 24 years to win an international sportscar race.

"Its great news that Justin is able to join us for Sebring," said Milka. "We both raced together in the World Series by Nissan in 2002 and he is a very talented driver. The team has worked very hard to prepare the CITGO Racing Taurus Sports Lola. Phil has a lot of experience with the team and the car and I think we have a strong driver line up. For me it is great to be racing at Sebring again where I've been fortunate to have some good results in the past."

The team's third drive, Phil Andrews, has raced at international levels for the past fifteen years in both single-seaters and sportscars. The 37-year-old from Birmingham, England was a regular with the Taurus team last year in the FIA Sportscar Championship - scoring a podium finish at Monza. In 2002 he was the runner-up in the NDS Euroboss series driving a 1996 Benetton-Judd, scoring two wins. He also has extensive experience in Formula 3 and Formula 3000.

"I'm really excited about racing with CITGO Racing, Milka and Justin," said Phil. "Last season the Taurus Sports Lola kept getting better and though we had some bad luck we were always in contention. There is a great atmosphere and enormous experience with this team. Sebring is so tough -- but we intend to be there at the finish."

The Taurus Sports team from Norfolk, England was formed last year by veteran team manager Ian Dawson and his son Simon, a former professional tennis player and now human performance coach. The team's headquarters combine large workshops with an extensive and well-equipped fitness center where not only racing drivers but professional jockeys, polo players and tennis players train.

Ian Dawson's motorsports resume stretches over 33 years and includes working as a mechanic at John Player Team Lotus in their heyday and building and running Mexican Hector Rebaque's independent Grand Prix cars. Ian subsequently moved into sportscar racing running his own cars under the Grid name and later managing sports car programs for Zakspeed, Ford, Momo, Risi, Multimatic and Ascari before forming Taurus Sports. In 2004, in addition to running the Lola, Taurus will also run four cars in Britain's Porsche Cup.

In 1983 Ian's Grid-Cosworth was leading the Sebring 12 Hours in the final hour when a wheel bearing collapsed and the car was eventually classified fourth. In 2002 the Dawson-run Ascari-Judd also finished fourth, the second best result ever in this historic race by an all-British car with an all-British driver line-up.

"We've had to burn a lot of midnight oil," said Ian. "But we are in great shape and so excited to be running for CITGO Racing, Milka, Justin and Phil. It's a great blend of speed, experience and personality. We're not kidding ourselves about the opposition -- but I think a top-5 is in the cards."

Activities begin on the historic 3.7-mile 17-turn circuit with Promoter Test Days on Monday and Tuesday March 15 & 16. There will be Practice Sessions on Wednesday, and both Practice and Qualifying Sessions on Thursday -- as well as Night Practice. Friday brings the final Practice Session and race day on Saturday begins with a Combined Warm Up in the morning with the green flag dropping at 10:30am EST. The immensely popular Driver Autograph Session will be on Friday at 1:00pm EST.

A live flag-to-flag broadcast of the race can be seen on the SPEED Channel in the USA beginning at the 10:30am EST green flag wave. The race will also be broadcast live throughout Europe by MotorsTV. The American Le Mans Series Radio Web will have live coverage online at www.americanlemans.com. Ticket information is also available online at www.sebringraceway.com or by calling (863) 655-1442 (toll-free 800-626-RACE.

CITGO, based in Tulsa, Okla., is a refiner, transporter and marketer of transportation fuels, lubricants, petrochemicals, refined waxes, asphalt and other industrial products. The company is owned by PDV America, Inc., an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Petroleos de Venezuela, S.A., the national oil company of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. For more information on CITGO visit www.citgo.com.

Additional information on drivers Milka Duno and Justin Wilson is available at www.milkaduno.com and www.justinwilson.co.uk, respectively. Information on Taurus Sports can be viewed at www.taurussports.co.uk.

For more information on the ALMS please visit www.americanlemans.com and on the 12 Hours of Sebring you are invited to tour www.sebringraceway.com.

-hc-

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Team Lotus , Williams , Jaguar Racing , Team Zakspeed