LE MANS, France. (June 15, 2005) - It's the most famous week leading up to the most famous race in sports car racing. This week marks the 73rd running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Team ADT Champion Racing is ready to battle for the win. If Champion Racing wins the race, it will be the first time in 37 years that an American team has won the coveted 24 Hours of Le Mans trophy.
Team ADT Champion Racing (Pompano Beach, FL) has a challenge ahead of them. Not only will both Audi R8 cars be carrying an extra 100 pounds of penalty weight, the diameter of the air restrictor has been reduced therefore decreasing the power output by five percent (30hp). More weight and less horsepower add up to a very different Audi R8 for the team and drivers. However, the strong points of the prototype remain the same: the bulletproof strength of the R8, the reliability, the Turbo FSI engine's low fuel consumption and the ease of serviceability.
Leading the charge will be a force of unquestionable experience, talent, and sports car driving skill. Piloting the No. 2 Audi R8 will be three-time Le Mans winning drivers Frank Biela and Emanuele Pirro. Joining them will be the notorious Scotsman, Allan McNish, a Le Mans winner in 1998. Competing with and against them will be the second Team ADT Champion racing entry, the No. 3 Audi R8. American Le Mans Series season regular's JJ Lehto (Le Mans winner in 1995) and his teammate Marco Werner will be joined by Tom Kristensen, a six-time Le Mans winner vying to re-write Le Mans history. A seventh Le Mans win by the Dane would make Kristensen the most successful Le Mans driver ever.
Dr. Martin Winterkorn, the Chairman of the Audi AG Board will be the honorary starter. He will lower the French flag to unleash the 50-car field for the world's most prestigious sports car race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Practice and qualifying will be held on Wednesday and Thursday evening, with the 8.46-mile Circuit de La Sarthe open until midnight both nights. The twice-around-the-clock event begins at 4 p.m. (France time) on Saturday, June 18th. In North America, race fans will be able to watch 17.5 hours of live coverage of the event on the SPEED Channel, beginning at 9:30 a.m. (EDT) on Saturday and concluding at 10:30 a.m. Sunday. Live coverage of the entire race can be heard online at www.radiolemans.com.
TEAM ADT CHAMPION RACING AUDI R8 #3
JJ Lehto (Fin). Age: 39. Born: Espoo, Finland. Lives: Monte Carlo, Monaco:
"This is the third time for me with Champion Racing so maybe the third time will be the charm! We have been good here from the first year, 2003 and earned two podiums in the last two years. We've also unfortunately had some bad luck. We could have won it last year had it not been for the accident. But this year the rule changes so it's a different game. The car is much slower, much more difficult to drive. The extra weight makes the car handle different from the past. It's hard on the tires, hard on the transmission, etc. The preparation is as good as it can be. We'll drive our own race and really the race starts after 12 hours with the reliability of the R8."
Marco Werner (D). Age: 38. Born: Dortmund, Germany. Lives: Ermatingen, Switzerland:
"The competition is very strong this year, especially the Pescarolo cars as they were running six seconds faster than us during the pre-qualifying. But we don't think they will be that quick in the race pace so we will hopefully be closer to them during the race. Maybe after 12 hours or more, we will know more. It would be nice to have my first win here at Le Mans and to do it with Dave Maraj and Team ADT Champion Racing."
Tom Kristensen (Den). Age: 37. Born: Hobro, Denmark. Lives: Monte Carlo, Monaco:
"I'm really happy to be joining ADT Champion Racing again and to have the chance to continue our 1-2 victory from Sebring. We know the new regulations will make it difficult for us but we will try to stay calm and concentrate. We have the best car, not the fastest car, but we will go for this small dream we have. This race has a really big history and the chance to go for my sixth consecutive win (seventh over-all) is something I do think about. We have two really strong cars and we are ready for the challenge."
TEAM ADT CHAMPION RACING AUDI R8 #2
Frank Biela (D). Age: 40. Born: Neuss, Germany. Lives: Monte Carlo, Monaco:
"It's a pleasure to be here with ADT Champion Racing. They are a real professional team and everything is very well prepared. There are some things, which are currently working against us (current rules changes) so that gives us some trouble. Overtaking is very dangerous for us now. The only way to pass the slower cars is during braking and if the drivers don't see you, it can be quite dangerous. This is a new situation for us. The advantages over the distance will be reliability, strategy, and our pit stops. These will be our strengths this weekend."
Emanuele Pirro (It). Age: 43. Born: Rome, Italy. Lives: Monte Carlo, Monaco:
"Now the moment of truth is here. We've done all the preparation we could and the whole team has given 100%. Now the only target is to bring home one win, the first for Team ADT Champion Racing, and this is truly my aim for this weekend. I believe we have the right weapons but of course the race is a big threat for everybody and we have to make it through the full 24 hours."
Allan McNish (GB). Age: 35. Born: Dumfries, Scotland. Lives: Monte Carlo, Monaco:
"I think with the Audi R8 and with ADT Champion Racing we've got as good a chance as any to come away with the victory. It's important here that you have a car that's fast and reliable, one that is easy to work on and one that has a good group of mechanics because time in the pits is time lost and that equals the over-all race victory, or not. I do feel we've done an excellent job in preparing for this race and once the green flag drops, then we'll just be doing the jobs that we are all trained to do."
Dave Maraj, Owner, Team ADT Champion Racing "Following two third places in the previous two years our target is clear: We would like to be the first American team since 1967 to win Le Mans. We know that it will be especially difficult this year due to the handicaps. But we know the strength of the Audi R8 and our drivers. Audi has given us five of their 'works' drivers - and JJ (Lehto) also knows how to win Le Mans."
For more information on Audi motorsports visit www.audiusa.com. For more information on Champion Racing, visit www.championracing.net.