|March 11, 2005
Audi R8 Begins
its Farewell Tour
- Season opener at Sebring 12-hour race (USA)
- Audi works drivers strengthen Team ADT Champion Racing
- Jyske Bank and S line new partners
The new sportscar season and Audi R8 farewell tour, which
will be replaced by a new model next year, begins on Sunday
19 March with the 12-hour race at Sebring (USA). The most
successful Le Mans prototype ever made its race debut
exactly five years ago at Sebring. The Audi R8 remains
unbeaten in the American endurance classic and has
celebrated 52 wins in 62 sportscar races.
Team ADT Champion Racing wants to continue this impressive
winning streak with a driving squad that could hardly be of
higher quality. With Frank Biela (Germany), Tom Kristensen
(Denmark), Allan McNish (Great Britain), Emanuele Pirro
(Italy) and Marco Werner (Germany), Audi loans the American
team five of its most successful works drivers, who form a
genuine "Dream Team" together with the Finn JJ Lehto. All
six Audi drivers have won the 12-hour race at Sebring at
least once. With his three overall victories Frank Biela
actually tops the "all time winner list" and could become
the first driver in history to score a fourth Sebring win.
At Sebring and also at the 24-hour race Le Mans, Frank Biela
and Emanuele Pirro receive support from DTM driver Allan
McNish. JJ Lehto and Marco Werner start together with
six-time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen.
After taking the runners-up spot four times in succession,
Team ADT Champion Racing, at home in Pompano Beach, Florida,
targets its first win at its "home race" at Sebring and
wants, in addition, to become the first American privateer
team in history to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans (18/19 June).
Dave Maraj's team receives support from two new partners in
their quest: The Danish Jyske Bank, until know personal
sponsor of Tom Kristensen, exploits the popularity of the
American Le Mans Series and the 24 Hours of Le Mans just as
the quattro GmbH for their "S line" sport and tuning kits.
The 12-hour race at Sebring starts on Saturday 19 March at
10:45 a.m. local time. SPEED tv broadcasts the event live in
the USA from 10:30 a.m. and Motors TV in Europe (also live).
Qualifying is held on Thursday 17 March from 2:45 p.m. to
3:10 p.m. local time.
Quotes before the race
Tom Kristensen (Team ADT Champion Racing Audi R8 #1): "I
can't imagine a better place to start the season. The first
race of the year is always something very special, but
Sebring is one of the genuine classics. It's about time that
Champion Racing finally wins this race. Obviously the same
can be said about Le Mans. I will compete in both races for
the team and will give everything. I drove in one ALMS race
for Champion in 2002, which helped me then to win the title.
Perhaps I can give something back to the team that competes
in motorsport with so much enthusiasm and passion. I drove
together with JJ in 1999. I drive with Marco for the first
time - but I know just how quick he is in a sportscar."
JJ Lehto (Team ADT Champion Racing Audi R8 #1): "I have been
with Champion Racing now for two years and we have been so
close to winning in Sebring both of those years, but despite
being the fastest car on the track, something unexpected has
always happened which has robbed us of the top podium
position. Hopefully this year with Tom, Marco and I we will
be sufficiently strong to pull it off."
Marco Werner (Team ADT Champion Racing Audi R8 #1): "The
season kicks off with a highlight and a particularly hard
one for us Europeans. We have to get adapted to a possible
temperature difference of 35 degrees Celsius. Sebring is
also always very strenuous because of the bumpy track. My
main target this year is to win Le Mans. However, I would
also like to win the ALMS for the third time in succession,
and winning at Sebring we would be in a good position. It
won't be easy since we have a second R8 in the team. And if
the fast Dyson-Lolas have sorted out their reliability
problems they could be a real threat."
Frank Biela (Team ADT Champion Racing Audi R8 #2): "Sebring
is without doubt the highlight of the American Le Mans
Series and is also rated very highly internationally. It is
a very special event with a great atmosphere around the
track. Obviously it would be fantastic to become the first
drive to win the race four times. But first of all it's
important to set-up the car perfectly for the long race, and
then we'll see how things unfold. We were well sorted at the
tests, but it will however be difficult since both cars in
our team are very strong, and we should not underestimate
Allan McNish (Team ADT Champion Racing Audi R8 #2): "Last
year, Sebring was my first race in the Audi R8 since 2000.
Winning together with Frank Biela and Pierre Kaffer was the
perfect way to return. In principle we have the same chances
this time. However it will not only be a very tough race
within the Audi team itself. I expect that we will have to
pay more attention to the competition than last year since
they have improved their cars and now use Michelin tyres
just as we do."
Emanuele Pirro (Team ADT Champion Racing Audi R8 #2): "I can
hardly wait for the season to start and that I can finally
compete in a race with the Audi R8 again. We had a very good
test in Sebring at the beginning of the year. I've just
completed an intensive fitness training programme together
with my team mates Allan and Frank. All three of us are in
top form. The main goal this year is to win at Le Mans. But
I'd also love to present the Champion team with the first
home victory at Sebring."
Dave Maraj (Team Director Team ADT Champion Racing): "We are
really looking forward to seeing how the 2005 season
develops and in particularly the first race. We've finished
second four-times in succession in Sebring. I have the
feeling that with our two-car team and six of the world's
best drivers we finally have the chance to win this
Dr Wolfgang Ullrich (Head of Audi Motorsport): "Up till now
the Audi R8 remains unbeaten in Sebring and this should also
be the case in what is probably its last season. That's why
we have made five of our best works drivers, who all know
how to win at Sebring, available for Team ADT Champion
Racing. At the same time the team will use this race as
preparation for the 24 Hours of Le Mans - a strategy that
has often paid off in the previous years with a victory at