Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx preview

"British" Audi Team Bids For Le Mans Glory Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx contests the 72nd Le Mans 24 Hours (12-13 June) aiming to record the German manufacturer's fourth win in five years in the annual French race. The British team starts the ...

"British" Audi Team Bids For Le Mans Glory

Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx contests the 72nd Le Mans 24 Hours (12-13 June) aiming to record the German manufacturer's fourth win in five years in the annual French race. The British team starts the twice round-the-clock encounter in stunning form after wins in the Sebring 12 Hours (20 Mar) - its maiden race - and Monza 1,000km (9 May) having also set the fastest two times in the Le Mans Pre-Test (25 Apr). Veloqx Audi drivers currently top the American Le Mans Series and Le Mans Endurance Series standings.

The Infineon & Canon supported Veloqx Audi team, formed just six months ago, enters a brace of Michelin-shod Audi R8 "open-top" sportscars in arguably the world's toughest motor race with a driver line-up that can already boast six outright Le Mans race wins.

Frank Biela (2000/1/2), Johnny Herbert (1991), Allan McNish (1998) and Guy Smith (2003) are joined in the Veloqx Audi line-up by 2003 Le Mans 24 Hours GTS class winner Jamie Davies and Le Mans "rookie" Pierre Kaffer.

In the Pre-Test at Le Mans in April, McNish (3min 32.615secs) and Herbert (3:32.627) set the two fastest times around the 8.454-mile track consisting of closed public roads. Since its race début in March 2000, an Audi R8 has won 41 of the 50 races contested and has never retired due to an engine failure.

Audi R8 - #8

Frank Biela (D). Age: 39. Born: Neuss, Germany. Lives: Monte Carlo, Monaco:

"This is undoubtedly the biggest and most special sportscar race in the world and despite winning it three times in a row, it remains a unique race for me. Last year's Le Mans disappointment is history for me now and thankfully I have been given the chance to go back to Le Mans with Audi UK again. It is a stressful week but it can also be enjoyable and very satisfying. Both of our R8s have been on the pace at Sebring, Monza and in the Pre-Test which proves Veloqx, despite being new to Audi and the prototype class, is a very professional team. Each car has a very strong driver line-up and it should be an interesting race. I'm competing in the DTM (German Touring Car Masters) full time this year and Le Mans is scheduled to be my last sportscar race of 2004 so it would be a nice feeling to have a good result."

Le Mans 24 Hours - sixth career appearance:

1999 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R8R.
Qual: 11th (FB) Race: 3rd 2000 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R8.
Qual: 2nd Race: 1st

2001 Audi Sport Team Joest Infineon Audi R8.
Qual: 2nd Race: 1st

2002 Audi Sport Team Joest Infineon Audi R8.
Qual: 2nd Race: 1st

2003 Audi Sport UK Audi R8.
Qual: 3rd (FB) Race: Retired

Pierre Kaffer (D). Age 27. Born: Bad-Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, Germany. Lives: Burgbrohl, D:

"The Le Mans 24 Hours will undoubtedly be the biggest race of my motor racing career. Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx is a very professional team while the Audi R8 is simply a fantastic sports racing car and to get the opportunity to drive with Veloqx and in an Audi for my Le Mans début is a dream for me. I intend to get plenty of time in the Audi during qualifying - I must thoroughly learn the circuit. There will be pressure on me: I have to push hard but also I must be very careful, for the team and my co-drivers. But I'll especially be looking forward to driving in darkness, you need a special rhythm. I have raced in three 24 hour races, all on the old Nürburgring but Le Mans, having visited the 24 Hour race for the past two years as a spectator, is something very special when you are actually present. Beautiful cars and a fantastic atmosphere - a perfect world."

Le Mans 24 Hours - race début

Allan McNish (GB). Age: 34. Born: Dumfries, Scotland. Lives: Monte Carlo, Monaco:

"Following our win at Sebring (ALMS), a second place at Monza (LMES) and our fastest time at Le Mans in the Pre-Test, we arrive for the Le Mans 24 Hours fully prepared. Competition will be tough, the similar 'Japanese' and 'American' Audi R8s will obviously be strong but so too will be the Zytek, Dome and Pescarolo cars. Since its race début in 2000, the Audi R8 has proven to be ultra-reliable which allows the driver to push harder and now the Le Mans 24 Hours is a day-long 'sprint' race. From a driver's point of view, you have to give 100%, day and night, while the team in the pits have to do the same. I've been endurance training for the past four months to get my body ready for the physical and also mental demands of driving up to four hours in any one stint during the 24 Hour race. I'm ready and so is the team and I can't wait for the start of the race."

Le Mans 24 Hours - fifth career appearance:

1997 Roock Racing Porsche 911 GT1.
Qual: 11th Race: Retired

1998 Porsche AG Porsche 911 GT1-98.
Qual: 5th (AM) Race: 1st

1999 Toyota Motorsports Toyota GT-One.
Qual: 2nd Race: Retired

2000 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R8.
Qual: 1st (AM) Race: 2nd+FL (AM)

Audi R8 - #88

Jamie Davies (GB). Age 30. Born / Lives: Charlton Adam nr Yeovil, England:

"Audi's new aero package worked extremely well as did Michelin's tyre compounds at the Pre-Test and we have laid a solid foundation for the race week. It's difficult to 'enjoy' Le Mans because there is so much going on each day which for us starts with technical checks and scrutineering on Tuesday afternoon, then two nights of qualifying on Wednesday and Thursday. Add in the team briefings and media interviews, the time goes very quickly although you do get a chance to savour the atmosphere during the Drivers' Parade on Friday evening in the Le Mans town centre. Then it's race day and hopefully I'll have no time to relax until 4pm on Sunday afternoon when I'll be standing on the winner's rostrum! Last year, I shared the Prodrive Veloqx Ferrari 550 in a GTS class win and obviously on this occasion I'm hoping that it will be first place overall.

Le Mans 24 Hours - fourth career appearance:

1998 Panoz Motorsports Panoz-Ford GTR-1.
Qual: 11th Race: 7th

2001 Panoz Motorsports Panoz LMP07.
Qual: 21st Race: Retired

2003 Veloqx Prodrive Racing 550 GTS Maranello.
Qual: 19th/1st * Race:10th/1st *

* GTS Class Position

Johnny Herbert (GB). Age 39. Born: Brentwood, England. Lives: Monte Carlo, Monaco:

"I won the 1991 Le Mans race but having finished second for the past two years, I know it's not going to be easy. We (Jamie, Guy & I) will have massive competition from the #8 Veloqx Audi while having also driven for the Champion Audi team regularly, I know how strong they will be - it has the ingredients for a great battle and perhaps a 'classic' Le Mans race. Le Mans is the big one that I want to win again - the jewel on any driver's CV. The circuit is very challenging with the Porsche curves arguably the best series of corners on any existing track which keeps a driver's concentration focussed. The night time is a very important element of the race, you gain a huge psychological boost if, at 8am for example, you're in the lead with a big advantage. I've learnt to be able to take cat naps during the race which can be a massive help."

Le Mans 24 Hours - seventh career appearance:

1990 Mazdaspeed Mazda 787B.
Qual: 22nd Race: Retired

1991 Mazdaspeed Mazda 787B.
Qual: 19th Race: 1st

1992 Mazdaspeed Mazda RX01.
Qual: 7th Race: 4th

2001 Team ADT Champion Racing 2001-spec Audi R8.
Qual: 3rd Race: Retired

2002 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R8.
Qual: 1st Race: 2nd

2003 Team Bentley EXP Speed 8.
Qual: 2nd (JH) Race: 2nd+FL (JH)

Guy Smith (GB). Age 28. Born / Lives: Beverley, England:

"I'm in good physical shape while the Veloqx Audi team, by winning the opening rounds of the American Le Mans Series (Sebring 12 Hours) and Le Mans Endurance Series (Monza 1,000km) have shown they are very competitive. To win Le Mans once is a great achievement for a driver but to win it twice, you join an elite group. Le Mans features fast, challenging corners and a good, all-round lap gives a driver a huge amount of satisfaction. There is likely to be a big British contingent in the crowd and as a driver, you tend to 'feed' off their support and it would be fantastic if we can give them something to cheer about at 4pm on Sunday afternoon. A victory for Jamie, Johnny and I would be the first-ever all-British, three-driver combination to win the annual endurance classic at Le Mans and considering it's the 72nd race, that would be something special."

Le Mans 24 Hours - fourth career appearance:

2000 Johansson-Matthews Reynard Judd 2KQ.
Qual: 21st Race: Retired

2001 Team Bentley EXP Speed 8.
Qual: 8th Race: Retired

2003 Team Bentley EXP Speed 8.
Qual: 1st Race: 1st

Sam Li , Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx - Team Principal:

"Team Veloqx's 100% success record in all ACO events from 2003 to date speaks for itself! Car 8 & 88 proved (at Sebring & Monza) that they can both meet the challenge of our competitors at any track and in any race. We travel to Le Mans to fight for the overall title while recognising the strength of the competition. Team morale is high but no complacency exists - which sets the tone for Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx's upcoming Le Mans challenge, the most important race in the team's history."

David Ingram , Audi UK - Motorsport Manager:

"With a first and third place finish at Sebring and a first and second at Monza, the prospects for a good result at Le Mans would seem very good. But we never underestimate the challenge that is the Le Mans 24 hour race. We have the drivers, the team and the car to do the job but we also need a little bit of luck. Le Mans is an awesome challenge and that's what makes it one of the world's greatest motor races."

-audi uk-

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About this article
Series Le Mans
Drivers Johnny Herbert , Allan McNish , Guy Smith , Frank Biela , Jamie Davies , Pierre Kaffer
Teams Team Joest