Auburn Hills, Mich. -- After twelve consecutive victories in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), Audi Sport Team Joest is facing its most difficult challenge of the season next week: The team is aiming to repeat last year's success in the Le Mans...
Auburn Hills, Mich. -- After twelve consecutive victories in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), Audi Sport Team Joest is facing its most difficult challenge of the season next week: The team is aiming to repeat last year's success in the Le Mans 24 Hours on June 16-17.
"Nobody can guarantee a victory at Le Mans", knows Team Director Reinhold Joest. "You need a fast and reliable car, the best drivers, perfect team work - but also the necessary amount of luck." Dr Wolfgang Ullrich, Head of Audi Sport, adds: "At Le Mans, the drivers, the team and the material is under permanent stress, and everyone knows that the unexpected might happen at any moment."
Compared to last year, the Infineon Audi R8 has been modified in detail. When making even minor modifications, the Audi engineers always had to have in their minds the unique demands of Le Mans. No modification could affect the reliability for which the Audi sportscar is known since 1999.
The strong Audi driver line-up includes newcomer Christian Pescatori. "Christian has a lot of experience and has had a lot of successes in sportscar racing", says Dr Ullrich. Last year, the 29-year-old Italian won the Sportscar World Cup, and Le Mans will not be new to him: In 1997 and 1999, Pescatori raced at the circuit located south-west of Paris. "Also decisive for the driver choice was Christian's height, which compares perfectly to his team mates", declares Dr Ullrich. "Especially when driving endurance races, this is an important factor."
Pescatori will share the cockpit of the number 2 Infineon Audi R8 with Laurent Aiello and Rinaldo Capello. Defending champions Frank Biela, Tom Kristensen and Emanuele Pirro will drive the number one sister car.
The two Audi customer teams, Champion and Johansson, will also field strong driver line-ups. Johnny Herbert, Ralf Kelleners and Didier Theys will drive the number three Champion Audi R8. The number four Gulf Audi R8 entered by the Johansson team, will be shared by Tom Coronel, Stefan Johansson and Patrick Lemarie.
For the Audi customer teams, the race week at Le Mans starts off with the technical scrutineering on Monday in the town center of downtown Le Mans. The two Infineon Audi R8 sportscars will be examined by the technical commissioners of the ACO on Tuesday, 8:30 a.m.
The action on the track starts on Wednesday and Thursday, with two four-hour qualifying sessions deciding who will start from pole position. Shortly before the start on Saturday at 4:00 p.m., Dr Franz Josef Paefgen, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG, will hand the Le Mans challenge cup over to the Automobile Club de l'Quest (ACO) - hoping, to take it back to Ingolstadt about 24 hours later. In between, however, there are about 3000 extremely hard miles - matching almost the distance of a complete Formula One season.
The Audi press conference with the Audi works team and the two customer teams will take place on Friday, June 15 at 3:00 p.m.