The Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx outfit has delivered a crushing victory on the British team's race début in the 52nd Sebring 12 Hours.
Frank Biela, Pierre Kaffer and Allan McNish took their R8 to a comfortable five-lap victory, giving the German manufacturer its fifth consecutive Sebring win, Audi UK a maiden international win and the Veloqx team its début sports prototype win.
The triumph also makes Biela only the fifth driver to score three overall Sebring victories - joining Motorsports legends Mario Andretti, Phil Hill, Hans Stuck and Olivier Gendebien. He has also become the most winning Prototype driver in ALMS history, with a total of 15 wins.
"This is my third Sebring victory in the last five years while an Audi R8 has now won five times in a row - a fantastic achievement for this sports prototype," said Frank. "This is a perfect way to start off my 2004 season - I hope I can enjoy the same success in DTM and at Le Mans."
For McNish, the 2000 American Le Mans Series champion, Sebring marked an emotional return to sports car racing with a victory after spending an often difficult past three seasons in Formula One, while team-mate Kaffer was also elated after a spectacular event debut.
"Coming back to Audi and scoring this victory is amazing," beamed the Scot. "It's like a great 'home coming' - they are truly fantastic people. I really enjoyed this win, made especially sweet after narrowly missing out here four years ago. This gives the team confidence for Le Mans."
"I cannot believe I have won my début race for Audi on my Sebring début in my first long distance race - I'm overjoyed," added Kaffer. "I didn't want to take big risks during my stints but the Audi R8 gives a driver, even a prototype 'rookie' like me, amazing confidence."
The ADT Champion Racing Audi R8 finished second, driven by JJ Lehto, Marco Werner and Emanuele Pirro. The Champion car had battled the two Audi UK entries until tangling with a lapped car, causing damage that led to a short stay behind the wall. The car roared back to finish second.
The other Audi UK entry driven by Johnny Herbert, Jamie Davies and Guy Smith finished 12 laps down in third place after having to go behind the wall for repairs to a malfunctioning rear end. The car had led some of the race and was solidly in contention prior to the mechanical problem.