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  Archive of Audi R8 Race Reports/News/Photos 2003  

Audi R8  2001  -  2002  -  2003  -  2004  -  2005  -  2006


Champion Racing  - 2003 Le Mans Tests


- New sponsor Canon onboard for Le Mans and ALMS

24 April (Pompano Beach, FL) -- Team ADT Champion Racing contests a critical test session on Sunday 4 May in advance of the world's most famous and prestigious endurance sportscar race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Florida-based team's Audi R8 is one of 56-cars the organizer of the annual French race (Automobile Club de l'Ouest) has "invited" to participate in two, four-hour test sessions. Champion Racing is a regular competitor in the American Le Mans Series and has scored 15 top-five placings in just two years.

The eight-hour trials around the 8.482-mile track, located approximately 100 miles south-west of Paris, presents the competitors with their one and only opportunity in advance of the race on 14-15 June to "fine-tune" their race vehicles to the demanding, high-speed road course consisting mainly of closed public highways.

Champion Racing contested the French round-the-clock marathon for the first time in 2001. Having set the second-quickest time of the 2001 Preliminary Tests, Champion qualified third for the race, it's 2000-spec Audi R8 retired one-third into the race from third position with a clutch problem.

The 200mph "open top" sports racecar is powered by a 3.6-liter, V8 bi-turbo Audi engine, restricted in power to 550bhp. It will ultimately need to complete around 3,000 miles at an average speed of over 130mph in the race to be in contention for honors.

Getting a racecar that is relatively easy to drive - for each of the three drivers who will share the driving duties - and consistent in terms of speed and handling, will be Champion's main goal on Sunday 4 May.

2001 American Le Mans Series champion Emanuele Pirro, winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the past three years with the "factory" Audi squad, plus 1995 and '97 Le Mans race winners JJ Lehto and Stefan Johansson will be bidding to bring America's only Audi team at Le Mans well deserved glory. Pirro, Lehto and Johansson drove together for the first time in the 12 Hours of Sebring. The trio led the majority of the race in March before ultimately finishing second.

The primary sponsor of Champion Racing's 2002-specification Audi R8 is ADT - the largest single provider of total security solutions to residential, business and federal customers. Secondary sponsorship comes from Audi Sport North America, Michelin and Canon.


Stefan Johansson (46), of Sweden: "I believe Le Mans is now the best track in the world - most others have been modified, losing their challenging elements. Like other races, Le Mans is not just about outright speed but even more so than other events. Solid preparation and no mistakes is what typically will win this unique race.

JJ Lehto (36), of Finland: "The biggest element is to be 100% reliable. The Audi R8 has filled at least the top-two positions at Le Mans for the past three years while Stefan, Emanuele and I have each previously won the race. It is still as special as it was when I raced there for the first time.

Emanuele Pirro (41), of Italy: "I will be hoping that we're able to run a large number of problem-free laps and to have tested different tire compounds thoroughly. It is also vital that all three drivers leave the test totally happy with the way the car is set-up. There is never enough time during the race week itself so its essential we get a lot of work completed on the test day - to lay the foundations for a successful 24 hour race."

Brad Kettler, Champion Racing's Technical Director: "The car was fully prepared before it left our Pompano base so it's ready to go! We'll get on the racetrack early to complete as many laps as possible. We need to complete plenty of tire testing for Michelin so we know exactly what we can achieve in terms of mileage and grip levels during the race."

Rod Bymaster, Audi Sport North America's Motorsport Manager: "Audi North America is very excited about competing again at Le Mans. Champion Audi is an outstanding dealership in Pompano and we welcome the opportunity in supporting Dave Maraj's motorsport activities with the R8 and RS 6 race programs."

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