|January 22, 2002
Herbert Joins Audi Works Effort
Auburn Hills, Mich. -- Audi faces one of the biggest challenges in motor racing, after two consecutive victories, Audi Sport Team Joest will start the legendary Le Mans 24 Hour race on June 15 and 16, 2002, trying to achieve a hat-trick.
The proven racer Johnny Herbert will strengthen the Audi works effort. The former Formula 1 driver and Le Mans winner will team up with Rinaldo Capello and Christian Pescatori at Le Mans and the 12 Hours at Sebring in March. Herbert got to know the undeniable advantages of the Audi R8 in the past season as one of the drivers for Audi customer team Champion Motors. Since then, he is convinced; "The R8 is simply a wonderful car. You can drive it on the limit from the first to the last lap - and this is exactly what I like." Herbert replaces Frenchman Laurent Aiello who will concentrate fully on the German Touring Car Masters (DTM).
According to the slogan "never change a winning team," the winning trio of the past two Le Mans races comprised of Frank Biela, Tom Kristensen and Emanuele Pirro will continue at Le Mans and in the Sebring 12 Hour classic. Should Biela/Kristensen/Pirro win Le Mans again, Audi would add a further chapter to the history of motorsport, never before has an unchanged driver combination won the French endurance classic three times in a row.
"Our aim is very ambitious, we want to win the Le Mans race for a third consecutive time in order to finally get the historic trophy to Ingolstadt," says Audi Head of Sport Dr Wolfgang Ullrich.
In the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), Audi will also defend its titles in the constructors', drivers' and teams' standings. After the season opener at Sebring, Audi Sport North America contests the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) with their proven driver line-ups of Frank Biela and title holder Emanuele Pirro in the number 1 Audi R8 and Rinaldo Capello and Tom Kristensen in the companion car. "Every year we have improved the team and the car to keep pace with the competitiveness of the American Le Mans Series," said Len Hunt, head of Audi of America. "We are looking forward to the challenge of defending our titles in the ALMS series and of course at Le Mans in June."
The Infineon Audi R8, which has already achieved 20 victories, is one of the most successful sportscars in the history of motor racing and will be improved in detail for the 2002 season. "The car and the new FSI engine still has potential that we want to exploit," declares Dr Ullrich
Audi Sport North America is the motorsports arm of Audi of America, Inc.