Bicester, UK, Monday 2nd April 2001: The key ingredients for a top sports car race - competitive racing, exciting cars and world class drivers - will assemble at Donington Park over the Easter weekend, 13th/14th April, to do battle in the opening...
Bicester, UK, Monday 2nd April 2001: The key ingredients for a top sports car race - competitive racing, exciting cars and world class drivers - will assemble at Donington Park over the Easter weekend, 13th/14th April, to do battle in the opening round of the European Le Mans Series. The grid boasts thirty of the world's best sports cars and an international line-up of drivers eager to be let loose on the Leicestershire circuit for two and three-quarter hours of nail biting action. It is the UK's first major motorsport event of the year.
On its first competitive outing the brand new Chrysler ORECA LMP, driven by triple Le Mans champion Yannick Dalmas and Olivier Beretta, faces a stiff test, not least from the two works Audi's of Capello/Kristensen and Biela/Pirro. On home territory the Gulf-sponsored Audi R8 of Stefan Johansson Racing will be looking to mix it with the two works cars for top honours, whilst David Brabham will lead the charge of the British drivers in the LMP (Le Mans Prototype) 900 class in one of the works Panoz with his Danish partner Jan Magnussen. Londoner Ben Collins and Silverstone-based South African Werner Lupberger team up in the Ascari A410 with Patrick Le Marie driving the second entry. Four-times Le Mans winning Henri Pescarolo is entering his one-car Pescarolo Sport team with Boullion, Bedon and Bourdais sharing the driving seat. Le Mans legend Pescarolo won the 24 Hour race for Matra three years in a row. His first win was in 1972 with Graham Hill.
The women are represented by Venezuelan driving ace Milka Duno, who will pilot one of the two Dick Barbour Racing LMP 675's with co-driver John Graham from Toronto. The Belgian pairing of Eric Van De Poele and Didier De Radigues take charge of the second car.
Two Saleen S7R's will run in the GTS class, with the Sebring (American Le Mans Series) class winning and Northampton-based Oliver Gavin heading the charge with team mate Terry Borcheller and team owner Franz Konrad. This will be the first time a Saleen S7R has raced in Britain.
Alex Job Racing from the USA will be entering two Porsche's after taking a class one-two at Sebring with Lucas Luhr, Emmanuel Collard and Randy Pobst first across the line. The American team are coming to Donington to take on the might of the works BMW M3 GTR's. While BMW failed to take class victory in the 12-hour Sebring race, they performed impressively enough to worry the dominant Porsche teams. Could Donington Park be the venue that sees the M3's of Fredrik Ekblom / Dirk Muller and J.J. Lehto / Jorg Muller take the first win against their rival German manufacturer?
Other entries in the GT class include PK Sport from the UK, German-based Seikel Motorsport and French team Noel Del Bello Race, all adding to the cosmopolitan flavour of the opening round of the 2001 European Le Mans Series at Donington Park, providing more than a touch of je ne sais quoi!
The race commences midday Saturday 14th April, advance ticketing is available from the Donington Park Ticket Hotline (from the UK) on 0870 4000 699.