Le Mans Preview

SPORT AUTO par admin, juin 7, 2001

Audi well prepared for Le Mans After twelve consecutive victories in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), Audi Sport Team Joest is facing presumably its most difficult challenge of the season next week: The team is aiming to repeat last year´s success in the Le Mans 24 Hours on June 16-17. “Nobody can guarantee a victory at Le Mans”, knows Team Director Reinhold Joest from his long lasting experience. “You need a fast and reliable car, the best drivers, perfect team work – but also the necessary amount of luck.” Dr Wolfgang Ullrich, Head of Audi Sport, adds: “At Le Mans, the drivers, the team and the material is under permanent stress, and everyone knows that the unexpected might happen at any moment.” Compared to last year, the Infineon Audi R8 has been modified in detail. When making even minor modifications, the Audi engineers always had to have in their minds the very special demands of Le Mans. No modification could affect the reliability for which the Audi sportscar is known since 1999. Six drivers are lined up by Audi, including newcomer Christian Pescatori. “Christian has a lot of experience and has also achieved a lot of successes in sportscar racing”, says Dr Ullrich. Last year, the the 29-year-old Italian won the Sportscar World Cup, and Le Mans will not be new to him: In 1997 and 1999, Pescatori raced at the circuit located south-west from Paris. “Also decisive for the driver choice was Christian´s height, which compares perfectly to his team mates”, declares Dr Ullrich. “Especially when driving endurance races, this is an important factor.” Pescatori will share the cockpit of the No.2 Infineon Audi R8 with Laurent Aiello and Rinaldo Capello. Defending champions Frank Biela, Tom Kristensen and Emanuele Pirro will drive the No.1 sister car. The two Audi customer teams, Champion and Johansson, have also combined strong driver line-ups. Despite entering last year´s Audi R8 sportscars, both teams proved to be real contenders for the Le Mans victory during May´s pre-testing session. Johnny Herbert, Ralf Kelleners and Didier Theys will drive the No.3 Champion Audi R8. The No.4 Audi R8 entered by the Johansson team, will be shared by Tom Coronel, Stefan Johansson and Patrick Lemarie. For the Audi customer teams, the race week at Le Mans starts off with the technical scrutineering on Monday in the town centre of Le Mans. The two Infineon Audi R8 sportscars will be examined by the technical commissioners of the ACO on Tuesday, 0830 hrs. The action on the track starts on Wednesday and Thursday, with two 4-hour qualifying sessions deciding who will start from pole position. Shortly before the start on Saturday at 1600 hrs, Dr Franz Josef Paefgen, Chairman of the Board of Management of AUDI AG, will hand the Le Mans challenge cup over to the Automobile Club de l´Quest (ACO) – hoping, to take it back to Ingolstadt about 24 hours later. In between, however, there are about 3000 extremely hard miles – matching almost the distance of a complete Formula One season. The Audi press conference with the Audi works team and the two customer teams will take place on Friday, 15 June, 1500 hrs. Le Mans Timetable Monday, 11 June 14.30 – 15.15 hrs Scrutineering Audi R8 Champion / Johansson Tuesday, 12 June 08.30 – 09.15 hrs Scrutineering Infineon Audi R8 Wednesday, 13 June 19.00 – 21.00 hrs 1st qualifying session, part 1 22.00 – 24.00 hrs 1st qualifying session, part 2 Thursday, 14 June 19.00 – 21.00 hrs 2nd qualifying session, part 1 22.00 – 24.00 hrs 2nd qualifying session, part 2 Friday, 15 June 15.00 hrs Audi Press conference 18.00 – 19.00 hrs Driver´s parade Saturday, 16 June 09.00 – 09.45 hrs Warm-up 16.00 hrs Start 24 Hours of Le Mans Sunday, 17 June 16.00 Uhr Finish 24 Hours of Le Mans