Le Mans incentive for Adelaide winner

Winners of this year's Adelaide Race of Thousand Years will be given automatic entry to the 2001 Le Mans 24 Hour, according to Don Panoz

Le Mans incentive for Adelaide winner

The American Le Mans founder announced that outright and class winners at the New Years Eve race will be given a bye to next year's 24-Hour enduro.

Adelaide will be one of only three races in this year's 12-round ALMS championship to guarantee a place at Le Mans

'The chance to gain a direct entry into the Le Mans is a major incentive to sportscar teams right around the world,' Panoz said.

'If you have a problem on the pre-qualifying weekend and miss the 24 hour, your entire program can be ruined.

'By gaining direct entry in the 24 hour, you can use the pre-qualifying weekend as a test session or by-pass that weekend and concentrate on your development.

'No matter what happens in pre-qualifying, you know you will be on the grid for the main event.

'It certainly makes life easier for teams for planning, sponsorship and logistics.'

Last year 75 entries were received to contest the race with only five cars guaranteed of a grid position for the race - leaving 70 cars to fight over 43 spots.

Adelaide will join the Road Atlanta Petit Le Mans event in the U.S. and the newly announced Nurburgring race in Germany as the direct qualifying events.

Pre-qualifying for this year's Le Mans 24 Hour will be staged on April 30, with the race itself on the weekend of June 17 and 18.

Race winners in the Prototype, GTS and GT classes in the Adelaide event will have guaranteed grid positions in 2001.

Panoz said the decision to make Adelaide one of the three qualifying races will further ensure its success.

'As I have said before, I think Adelaide will be one of the 'jewels in the crown' of our series and we are keen ensure it will be a major success,' Panoz said.

'Adelaide's reputation for providing a fantastic motor race and an even better party remains strong in the international motorsport community and the feedback I have been getting throughout the world is extremely positive.

'We plan to position Adelaide as one of the world¹s great sportscar races. Every driver wants to have victories at Le Mans, Sebring and Petit Le Mans on their CV - we want racers to be desperate to add Adelaide to that list.'

The Audi and Panoz marques have already committed to the entire Le Mans series in 2000 and an announcement is expected soon regarding BMW's expected involvement.

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