LE MANS, France (June 15, 2003) - Consistency on the track and in the pits proved successful for Team ADT Champion Racing. In only Champion's second attempt at earning a win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Dave Maraj (owner) and his crew of excellent...
LE MANS, France (June 15, 2003) - Consistency on the track and in the pits proved successful for Team ADT Champion Racing. In only Champion's second attempt at earning a win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Dave Maraj (owner) and his crew of excellent drivers and tireless mechanics have the honor of bringing home the third place trophy of sportscars most legendary race, the grueling 24 Hours of Le Mans in France.
Apart from a battery change just after 6:00 a.m., Team ADT Champion's Audi R8 ran absolutely trouble free. Recording consistently fast lap times, drivers Stefan Johansson, JJ Lehto and Emanuele Pirro stayed in touch with the two Bentley works cars.
The same was true for the R8 team of Audi Sport Japan Team Goh. Driver's Seiji Ara, Jan Magnussen and Marco Werner drove a brilliant race despite a few problems. At 1:40 a.m. the team had to change the right front suspension which cost the #5 car about three laps. Then shortly before 4 a.m., Marco Werner reported a misfiring engine. The misfire was cured during two unscheduled pit-stops by changing the spark plugs and various parts of the engine's peripherals.
For the drivers and team of Audi UK, it was a very short and extremely frustrating race. Just two hours into the race, Frank Biela wanted to enter the pitlane for his second regular pitstop but another competitor blocked his way. Biela, who had won Le Mans for three successive years, was able to avoid a collision but missed the pit entrance. Although Frank reduced his speed to conserve fuel, the Audi R8 retired about two miles before the pits near the Arnage curve.
Rod Bymaster, Motorsports Manager, Audi North America:
"These guys (Champion racing) did a wonderful, incredible job this weekend. Considering what these guys were up against with the factory Bentley team, they were fabulous. They didn't make any mistakes and the car ran flawlessly. Champion is one of the best teams in the world and they proved it today. Audi of America is extremely proud of Dave Maraj and his team. And the same holds true for Team Goh. They did a fabulous job as well. They looked like a totally buttoned up private team and performed like one too. We just hope they come back and run some more races."
Len Hunt, President, Audi of America:
"I am so proud of Champion Racing. I think this is the first time an American team has won at Le Mans. And when I saw that American flag on the podium, I was so proud. It really is a major achievement of all times. And the fact that he is one of our Audi dealers makes it just that much more special. And Team Goh drove a great race. Marco Werner, Jan Magnussen and Seiji Ara are a great combination of drivers. Team Goh is our compatriot in Japan and they did a great, great job in representing Audi."
TEAM ADT CHAMPION RACING
Emanuele Pirro, Italy
"It's an amazing feeling for me to be on the winners' rostrum for a fifth consecutive year here at Le Mans. We did the best job possible in the circumstances and for a privateer team to climb on to the podium here is an incredible achievement."
JJ Lehto, Finland
"It turned out to be a 24 hour sprint race, we chased the Bentleys but they had no problems. I spun on oil on Sunday morning. The nose of the Audi went into the gravel and bounced into the tire barriers but thankfully it caused no damage. "
Stefan Johansson, Sweden
"I was cautious in my opening stint, and did not have the most ideal tire on my night stint but thoroughly enjoyed my last drive. Dave Maraj's team did everything humanly possibly - they were incredibly well-prepared."
AUDI SPORT JAPAN TEAM GOH
Seiji Ara, Japan
"I cannot put a smile on my face, because I came here to be on the podium. We pushed very much from the start to the finish, and we ended up with 4th . Yes, this result is nice but, I would like to say thank you to the mechanics, engineers, and the people involved in this project, especially Mr. Goh.
Jan Magnussen, Denmark
"It is my first year to drive such a fine sportcar as the Audi R8 here in Le Mans. And I got fantastic experience with Audi R8. Thank you Mr. Goh for choosing me. Since I drove the R8 for the first time, I knew we could get good results. It is a pity we did not get a podium."
Marco Werner, Germany
"Team Goh is such a professional racing team. I am pleased to work with them. They did an excellent job in fixing the problems very quickly. I am sorry Team Goh did not get a podium."
The next scheduled race for Team ADT Champion Racing and the American Le Mans Series is the Atlanta Grand Prix, June 27-29, at Road Atlanta. This 2:45 race will be televised live on CBS, Eastern Standard Time.