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Audi and its three privateer teams gear up for the 24 Hours of Le Mans LE MANS, France (June 11, 2003) -- It's the most famous week leading up to the most famous race in sportscar racing. This week marks the 71st running of the 24 Hours of Le...

Audi and its three privateer teams gear up for the 24 Hours of Le Mans

LE MANS, France (June 11, 2003) -- It's the most famous week leading up to the most famous race in sportscar racing. This week marks the 71st running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Audi is here in force with three privateer teams: Team ADT Champion Racing, Audi Sport UK and Audi Sport Japan Team Goh.

All three teams have been developing their cars as well as their strategy as this year's race is surely to be one of the most competitive. Not only in battling with the two Bentley cars, but also amongst the three Audi teams. Everyone has the same goal, the famed trophy from the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Rod Bymaster , Audi Sport North America's Motorsport Manager said, "Le Mans is one of the greatest motorsport events in the world and the 71st will not be an exception. The battle between Audi and Bentley will be very dramatic and the family rivalry between Audi Japan, Audi U.K. and Champion Racing will add even more entertainment. Le Mans requires as much preparation and puts as much stress as a complete racing season into one race for the teams and the one best able to handle these conditions will win the race."

Driver quotes:


Frank Biela of Germany:
"I'm more determined to win Le Mans again but the pressure is different this year. The 'factory' Audi team started the last three Le Mans races as the favorites but this year it's different with three 'customer' teams, all running the same specification Audi R8, and with the Bentleys showing so strong at Sebring and in the test. I'm as motivated as I have always been for Le Mans and I'm very optimistic that the whole 'package' will enable the Audi Sport UK team to be successful. Before spinning off on oil in the pre-test last month, we showed that we could set competitive times."

Perry McCarthy of Great Britain:
"I'm out to win and I need my body to keep up with that expectation! The incredible performance of the Audi R8 exerts a high level of G-force from acceleration. Cockpit temperatures are often in excess of 130 degrees Fahrenheit, heart rate is generally above 140 beats per min - with maximums going up to 190+ - and with concentration levels at speeds over 200mph very high. Each of the three drivers do this for a total of eight hours which is the equivalent of five Formula One Grand Prix per team driver across a 24 hour period!"

Mika Salo of Finland:
"The pre-test last month was my first ever experience of the Le Mans circuit and it's by far the most beautiful circuit I've driven around. It was fantastic driving fast along the closed public roads that normally carry trucks, with the buildings and trees so close - it gave me a tremendous buzz. This will be the first 24 hour race of my career and strength and stamina wise that will not be a problem. I do not foresee driving at night will be a problem either although it will of course be difficult lapping the slower cars in darkness. The pre-test went well and I'm confident for the race."


Stefan Johansson of Sweden:
"This is my best chance to win at Le Mans again. We have a great driver line up, the team is better than ever, the Audi R8 is superb and this year, equal to the other two Audis we're racing against. We will have to rely on good reliability -- a proven aspect of this car - and making sure no one makes any mistakes. Bentley will no doubt prove a very tough competitor and I believe the race this year will become an epic battle between all the three Audis and two Bentleys - just as Sebring showed."

JJ Lehto of Finland:
"I don't believe that we will be the fastest car in qualifying or at certain times in the race but that doesn't mean we cannot win. We have a proven race winning car that has an engine offering fantastic fuel economy combined with exceptional reliability. The team did a good, solid job in the pre-test when we focused in finding a set-up that gave us a fast, consistent race pace that we can achieve throughout the race."

Emanuele Pirro of Italy:
"After Sebring and the Le Mans test, my evaluation has not changed. We have a good chance of winning at Le Mans but we face very tough opposition -- especially in the form of Bentley. Our team proved to be able to work in a really professional and efficient way and I'm confident that we will be able to use all the potential of the R8. If we do that we'll be looking pretty good. At the test we concentrated on achieving consistently fast laps during a stint as opposed to one-off lap times. We gathered extremely useful data for race."


Jan Magnussen of Denmark:
"It's different being here with Audi compared to previous years. My motivation is a lot higher this year. I think the biggest competition will come from Bentley and the other Audis. In terms of driving this car, well the Audi R8 is effortless to drive. Over all the Audi R8 is a complete package. It's a dream to drive."

Marco Werner of Germany:
"Team Goh is very motivated this year. This is my second time driving the Audi R8 for Audi and I am very impressed with this team. The mechanics have been working really hard in preparing a strong car. With Audi you always have a good car but if we do have trouble, it is very important to have a good team of mechanics who can work on the car. I am very proud to be with Audi and Team Goh this year."

Qualifying session #1 in Le Mans starts Wednesday from 7:00 to 9:00 pm and then again at 10:00 to 12:00 am. Qualifying session #2 starts Thursday from 7:00 to 9:00 pm and then again at 10:00 to 12:00 am. The green flag for the 50 competing cars will be dropped Saturday at 4:00 pm Central European time.

In North America, race fans will be able to watch 17 hours of live coverage of the event on SPEED Channel, beginning at 9 a.m. (EDT) on Saturday. Live coverage of the entire race can be heard online at


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About this article
Series Le Mans
Drivers Stefan Johansson , Jan Magnussen , Frank Biela , Mika Salo , Marco Werner , Perry McCarthy , Emanuele Pirro , JJ Lehto