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McNish To Lead Audi At Le Mans

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Thursday, February 4 2010

RacinToday.com

Allan McNish will bid for a third career Le Mans 24 Hour race victory in June when he races an Audi, which will be bidding for a ninth triumph in the annual French sportscar endurance race.

Dumfries-born McNish will drive the latest diesel-engined Audi R15 TDI sports-prototype in the twice-around-the-clock encounter on 12-13 June. McNish, aged 40, became the first Briton to win the legendary Le Mans race in a diesel-powered sportscar in 2008.

Audi Sport has spent the winter further developing and refining the twin-turbocharged R15 TDI while McNish teams up with record eight-time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen (Denmark) and Dindo Capello (Italy) for a fifth consecutive year in one of three Audi Sport Team Joest entries to spearhead Audi’s assault.

“Winning the Le Mans 24 Hours is Audi’s main objective this year,” confirmed Monaco-based McNish. “Audi has finished on the winner’s rostrum every year since making its Le Mans debut in 1999 but having won eight times, last year’s third place which Tom, Dindo and I achieved was an under par performance.

“Audi and I have the same desire to go back to France this year and win but it will be a difficult challenge against Peugeot and Aston Martin. We’ll need to be at our top level but with Tom and Dindo in my car, plus our team-mates in the in the other two Audis, I know that we have the best driver line-up, team personnel in the pits and car in the form of the latest specification Audi R15 TDI to do the job.”

Audi will start the 78th Le Mans 24 Hours with three diesel-powered racing sports cars. At a Press Conference of the race’s organiser, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, in Le Mans, Thursday, Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich announced Audi’s driver line-up for the most important sports car race of the year.

The second Audi R15 TDI will be shared by Timo Bernhard (Germany), Romain Dumas (France) and Mike Rockenfeller (Germany). The two Porsche “factory” drivers – Bernhard  and Dumas – made a strong showing in their first race for Audi at Le Mans last year. Audi “factory” driver Mike Rockenfeller won the Le Mans Series in 2008 in the Audi R10 TDI and successfully began his 2010 season with an overall victory at the 24-hour race at Daytona (USA) at the end of January.

Rockenfeller was on the team that won the Rolex 24 in Daytona last weeekend.

New signings Marcel Fässler (Switzerland), André Lotterer (Belgium) and Benoît Treluyer (France) have been selected to drive the third R15 TDI. Marcel Fässler (33) and Benoît Treluyer (33) have contested the 24-hour race at Le Mans several times before. André Lotterer (28) performed admirably last year on his Le Mans debut at the wheel of a privately fielded R10 TDI.

All three Audi R15 TDI cars are entered by Audi Sport Team Joest and designated as cars number 7, 8 and 9. The third sports-prototype will officially run as “Audi Sport North America,” the name under which it was nominated.

“We are pleased that the ACO has accepted our three nominations for the world’s most important sports car race and that we will again be able to compete with three cars,” says Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich.

“Our stated goal is to bring back the Le Mans trophy to Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm. Three cars mean three chances – and we feel that all three R15 TDI cockpits have been filled with top-class drivers. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our colleagues from Porsche for again making two of their best drivers – Timo and Romain, with whom we were very pleased at their first Le Mans race for Audi – available to us.”

Info Manager | , RacinToday.com Thursday, February 4 2010
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