ADT/Champion Third at Le Mans
June (Le Mans, France - Race)
In only the team's second visit to
the annual sportscar endurance race, Emanuele Pirro, JJ Lehto and Stefan
Johansson steered their Team ADT Champion Racing Audi R8 to a fine third
place in France.
While two ‘factory’ entered Bentley coupes finished first and second for
Britain in the round-the-clock race, the privateer Champion Racing Audi
outfit from Pompano Beach (FL) netted a magnificent result for America.
The American Le Mans Series front-runners started the race at 4pm on
Saturday afternoon (local), sixth on the 49-car grid. Pirro, chasing a
fourth consecutive Le Mans triumph, together with Lehto and Johansson,
also previous Le Mans victors, were in contention for honors throughout.
A puncture after two hours required an unscheduled pit-stop while a
battery change, a spin in to a gravel trap this morning (SUN) and a
further battery change with a little over an hour remaining, were the
only other time-consuming moments for the ADT sponsored Audi.
The Champion Audi was the highest-placed finisher of three “customer”
2002-spec R8s that started the 71st 24 Hours of Le Mans -
earning Pirro and the German car manufacturer a fifth consecutive Le
Mans rostrum finish. Although running in 2002-specification, all three
Audis were 60hp down on power compared to last year’s Le Mans race
dominating “factory” R8s due to organizer imposed rule changes regarding
the air restrictor size.
Team ADT Champion Racing, having finished second in the opening 2003
ALMS race at Sebring in March, resumes its title challenge in Atlanta on
29 June with Britain’s Johnny Herbert and Lehto at the wheel.
(41), of 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.”
(36), of 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. “
(46), of 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
Champion Racing’s Technical Director: “My crew did a fantastic job,
each and every one of them. It was a little tense in the closing stages
with some starter issues which required us to change the battery but
apart from the that, our Audi ran like clockwork.”
Champion Racing’s Team Owner: “I am so proud of my team. We
experienced some minor problems but conquered them and ran a perfect
strategy. We may not have been the outright race winners but my
‘private’ team ran the best-placed Audi.”
Audi Sport North America’s Motorsport Manager: “An all-round stellar
job - Dave’s team gave a perfect performance and could have done no
better. The Bentleys were just too strong.“