Reigning American Le Mans Series champion Frank Biela will lead Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx's assault on the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring next March, the German marque has revealed.

Already revealed as part of Audi's DTM line-up for 2004, Biela was always likely to remain a part of the marque's customer sportscar effort, leaving the recipient of his talent the only question.

A two-time winner of America's oldest sports car race, the 39-year-old German will drive an R8 prototype for the newly-formed Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx alongside Audi newcomer Pierre Kaffer and Briton Jamie Davies. Biela will also drive for the team in the Le Mans 24 Hours, when he will go in search of his fourth win in the French endurance classic.

Biela's two wins at Sebring have been with two different race teams, but both have been in the Audi R8, so the 2004 effort with Team Veloqx will give him the chance of securing a unique hat-trick. In 2000, the former touring car champion drove for the factory Audi team alongside Tom Kristensen and Emanuele Pirro, then shared success with Marco Werner, Philipp Peter and Infineon Team Joest in 2003. He then joined Audi UK for its Le Mans effort, only to retire before darkness fell.

Biela and Werner went on to win four more times in the ALMS, collecting the drivers' championship in the LMP 900 class - the first such accolade for either driver

"For Audi UK to give me the opportunity of winning Le Mans again is fantastic," said Biela, who will spend most of the 2004 season racing in Germany's DTM, "I also wanted to keep in touch with sportscars, so driving the Audi R8 again at Sebring and Le Mans is an ideal situation for me."

Though Biela has driven Audi R8s since the car was introduced in 2000, Kaffer and Davies will be racing the car for the first time when they compete on the 3.7-mile Sebring International Raceway in March.

Davies raced for the Veloqx team at Sebring in 2003, albeit in the GTS class at the wheel of a Ferrari 550 Maranello. Though the team encountered mechanical problems at the Florida-based season opener, Davies then went on to join Tomas Enge and Peter Kox in winning the class at Le Mans in June.

Kaffer made headlines in his homeland in recent weeks when he tried a Patrick Racing Champ Car for size, but was snapped up by Audi to bolster its sportscar effort. In his 13-year career, he has gained experience in both single-seaters and GT cars, but will make his ALMS prototype debut at Sebring.

"I'm delighted that we have been able to put this team together," said David Ingram, Audi UK's motorsport manager, "I am particularly pleased that Frank will be driving for us again. As reigning ALMS champion, and with a hat-trick of Le Mans 24 Hour race victories, there is no one I'd rather have in the team. Jamie's track record speaks for itself and with Pierre's considerable ability completing the line-up, I'm confident that Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx will be a formidable force in 2004."

 

Comments

Loading Comments...