Denmark's Team Essex and Britain's Zytek Engineering have struck a deal that will them jointly develop and run the new Zytek LMP1 sports prototype at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours.

After the disappointment of 2005, when neither operation was present at the June classic, the two partners have teamed up again to launch an attack on race, this time with a confirmed entry.

"It was a disappointment of great proportion not to take part in last year's race, so we are very proud to present our programme today," team owner Peter Halvorsen admitted, "With a 100 per cent Danish - and, indeed, a 100 per cent Team Essex - crew, in a car which is expected to be among the top five, our team manager John Nielsen has been given a huge challenge.

"We believe that a podium finish is possible and are looking forward to an exciting race where we, along with 20,000 other Danes, might experience the biggest triumph of all."

Zytek Engineering has been working flat out to get its new 2006 Le Mans car up and running, with the first shakedown planned for the end of March. This will be followed by an intensive test programme, as well as participation in the Spa 1000km, as the final preparations before Le Mans.

"It will be my 18th Le Mans and I'll be aboard a competitive car - what more can you ask for as a racing driver?" Nielsen asked, "The fact that I have my Team Essex colleagues Casper Elgaard and Philip Andersen as co-drivers will only make the challenge - and the joy - even bigger. With this crew, we have the mixture of the flippancy of youth and the thoughtfulness of experience. We are aiming for the podium and I'm looking forward to the challenge."

Elgaard has long been a sportscar partner of Nielsen's, and has experience of working with Zytek from sporadic outings in the past two seasons.

"The fact that we won the Spa 1000km with the Zytek last year proved that we belonged among the favourites for Le Mans, but then we didn't get an entry," he pointed out, "That just makes me even more excited about this opportunity.

"Zytek will be building its new car based on the experiences gained from the old one, which was one of the fastest sports prototypes in the world. The lessons learnt from that makes me believe that we will be heading for the start of the season with a car that has what it takes to win. Now it is up to us as a crew to make the best of it."

Andersen will be the new boy in the three-man crew, having never been to Le Mans before, but is looking forward to the step up.

"It is hard to put into words how much I am looking forward to this new challenge," he admitted, "One of my lifelong dreams has come true and, together with John and Casper, I will do my best to make this a success.

"To make my Le Mans debut with Team Essex just makes things easier. I know the staff and the team and I can thus concentrate on the task ahead. With John Nielsen as team captain, I could not have imagined a better teacher."

The car will run in the colours of Essex Invest as well as those of Denmark as the team attempts to dethrone Denmark's other Le Mans hero - Tom Kristensen - at La Sarthe this year.

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