LE MANS, France. (June 16, 2005) - The qualifying session for Team ADT Champion Racing (Pompano Beach, FL) occurred exactly as predicted. Both Audi R8s, saddled with 100 pounds more weight and 30 less horsepower, qualified 3rd (car No. 2) and 8th (car No. 3) for the starting of the 73rd running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Frank Biela (Germany), Emanuele Pirro (Italy) and Allan McNish (Scotland), drivers of the No. 2 Audi R8 closed the gap on the leading two Pescarolo cars from six seconds during the pre-test to less than three seconds during tonight's final qualifying session.
Finland's JJ Lehto, Germany's Marco Werner and Denmark's Tom Kristensen worked on set-up during most of tonight's qualifying session and also reduced their time from the leaders from six seconds during the pre-test to four seconds.
This may be Team ADT Champion Racing's best shot after four years of fighting for the overall title. No American team has won at Le Mans since Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt drove a Ford GT40 for Shelby American Inc., in 1967.
Dave Maraj, owner of Team ADT Champion Racing, fielded an Audi R8 in 2001 and each of the past three years. A Champion entry finished third overall in 2003 and 2004. The closest Maraj and his team came to victory was in 2003, when Lehto, Pirro and Stefan Johansson finished five laps behind the winning Bentley EXP Speed 8.
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.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans can be seen live on the SPEED Channel, beginning at 9:30 a.m. Saturday and concluding on Sunday (6:00 a.m.-10:00 a.m.). SPEED will show 17.5 hours of competition. 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:
"We didn't really get a good qualifying opportunity. Marco tried one set of tires. Tom tried another. We mainly concentrated on race set-up and all three of us are happy with the car so that will be good for the race. The gap is now what we expected."
Marco Werner (D). Age: 38. Born: Dortmund, Germany. Lives: Ermatingen,
"My compliments to the team. They did a very good job because we made a very good step towards the set-up on the car. Our race performance will be very good on Saturday. Traffic was a problem for me today for qualifying but it is good to know we have a good car for the race."
Tom Kristensen (Den). Age: 37. Born: Hobro, Denmark. Lives: Monte Carlo,
"Today was a good session, very competitive. We are closer in general in speed than we did expected. Today we concentrated solely on the race set-up and I know JJ and Marco are very happy with the car so I have a good feeling and I am look forward to the race."
TEAM ADT CHAMPION RACING AUDI R8 #2
Frank Biela (D). Age: 40. Born: Neuss, Germany. Lives: Monte Carlo, Monaco:
"I think we are happy with 3rd place. It was the best that we could get with the two others cars that are considerably faster. Mainly in the second session we were concentrating on race set-up. The car feels really good. So for the race we are more or less sorted out."
Emanuele Pirro (It). Age: 43. Born: Rome, Italy. Lives: Monte Carlo, Monaco:
"The main target for us was to have a good set-up for the race and I think we have that. Qualifying first was never that important to us but to actually be the fastest Audi for both days and then to be third on the grid, even if it means nothing for the race, is far beyond my expectations. What also makes me happy is that the gap between us and the Pescarolo cars is not as big as it was. The team did a great job as did the three drivers. So far so good."
Allan McNish (GB). Age: 35. Born: Dumfries, Scotland. Lives: Monte Carlo,
"Today we got a better starting spot than we expected. We really tried to be ahead of the pack of cars and I'm glad we accomplished that. We also worked mainly on the balance of the car and we're close, but we still don't have it finalized yet. We've got a little bit of thinking to do before warm-up."
1) E.Collard/JC.Boullion/E.Comas Pescarolo Judd 3:34.715
2) S.Loeb/E.Helary/S.Ayari Pescarolo Judd 3:35.555 0.840
3) E.Pirro/F.Biela/A.McNish Audi R8 3:37.795 3.080
4) R.Michigami/S.Ara/K.Kaneishi Dome Mugen 3:38.094 3.379
5) F.Montagny/JM.Gounon/S.Oretelli Audi R8 3:38.281 3.566
6) J.Cochet/S.Nakano/B.Jouanny Courage Judd 3:38.735 4.020
7) N.Minassian/J.Campbell-Walter/A. DBA Judd 3:38.929 4.214
8) JJ.Lehto/M.Werner/T.Kristensen Audi R8 3:38.988 4.273
9) M.Short/J.Barbosa/V.Ickx Dallara Judd 3:39.643 4.928
10) S.Hignett/J.Stack/H.kurosawa Zytek 3:41.177 6.462
For more information on Audi motorsports visit www.audiusa.com. For more information on Champion Racing, visit www.championracing.net.
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