Audi to chase Le Mans hat-trick

German giant Audi have officially confirmed that it will mount an assault to capture a hat-trick of Le Mans 24 Hours victories next year

Audi to chase Le Mans hat-trick

Audi motorsport boss Dr Wolfgang Ullrich announced at the Essen Motor Show on Friday afternoon that the marque's duo of silver R8 prototype sportscars would return to the French classic on June 15/16 2002.

They will also defend their American Le Mans Series title in the 10-race US-based championship, won for the past two years by works Audi drivers Allan McNish and Emanuele Pirro respectively.

Ullrich said of chasing the Le Mans hat-trick: "We have a big opportunity. Maybe we can achieve something that only a few manufacturers have achieved." The last car makers' factory team to complete a hat-trick of Le Mans victories was Porsche in 1981-'83.

Although confirmation of which team and drivers would be involved in the effort was not confirmed by Audi, their long-time factory team Joest are fully expected to continue running the all-conquering R8s. Its principle drivers, Pirro, Frank Biela, Tom Kristensen and Rinaldo Capello will also all be retained. Frenchman Laurent Aiello, who drives for the private Audi Abt team in the DTM touring car series, has also confirmed he has signed to join Audi's Le Mans attack for the fourth year.

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