Former Grand Prix driver Mika Salo, of Finland, and Germany’s three-times Le Mans 24 Hour race winner Frank Biela spearhead Audi Sport UK’s assault for honours in this year’s round-the-clock endurance sportscar race along with Briton Perry McCarthy on 14-15 June.
While Helsinki-born Salo (36) will be making his Le Mans début in the all-conquering Audi R8, Monaco-based ex-British Touring Car Champion Biela (38) will be bidding to become the first ever driver to win the French "classic" four years in a row. McCarthy (41), from Brentwood in Essex, like Biela, has raced at Le Mans on four previous occasions.
The ultra-experienced trio will drive a 2002-specification Audi R8 that will be prepared and run by Littlehampton-based Arena Motorsport. Meanwhile Salo and McCarthy are joined by London-based Jonny Kane in the Sebring 12 Hours next month, the up-and-coming Ulsterman deputising for Biela in the Audi Sport UK R8.
Switzerland-based Salo, who has driven over 100 Grands Prix in the Formula One World Championship for Lotus, Tyrrell, Ferrari, Sauber and most recently Toyota, commented: "The opportunity of making my Le Mans début in a car that has won the race for the past three years, with one of the drivers that has been victorious in each of those years, was simply too good to turn down. The Audi is an awesome machine in this category and we will start both the Sebring and Le Mans races with a very realistic chance of podium finishes."
Biela, driving for the "factory" Audi team, has won the 2000, ’01 and ’02 Le Mans races, and is optimistic of scoring a fourth victory in a 2002-specification Audi R8 owned by Audi UK, the German prestige car manufacturer’s Milton Keynes-based British importer.