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Brundle fears BMW and Mercedes challenge

BMW's JJ Lehto and Bernd Schneider of Mercedes are most likely to upset the Le Mans' form-book, according to race favourite Martin Brundle

The Toyota GT-One driver, who starts on pole-position for this weekend's 24-hour event, fears his biggest challenge will come from his Toyota team-mates and the two German manufacturers.

'Our biggest rivals will be the BMW of Lehto, the Benz of Schneider and the Toyota number two car,' he said.

'Behind that any one of six cars will be ready to pick up the pieces.'

Brundle, whose pole-setting time shattered the lap record, believes a win for Toyota would also boost the team's planned Formula 1.

Speaking from Le Mans he added, 'This is a massive race for everyone. A win for Toyota would set them up nicely to help them into F1.

'It's also an important race for me. I would not be risking my life if I did not think we could win.

'Everyone in the team is focused and we are in an excellent position to take the chequered flag.'

Brundle's co-drivers will be Emmanuel Collard and Vincenzo Sospiri.

Meanwhile Le Mans 1998 champion Allan McNish in the second Toyota GT-One is confident that he can also make his mark on the race.

Despite still being signed to Porsche while they take their sabbatical year from competitive motorsport, he said that Toyota was the natural choice as a team to defend his title with.

'When Porsche decided that they weren't coming this year I had to find an alternative seat and Toyota was the first place that I looked, because they were the car that we had to chase down and beat last year - they were very, very fast.

'When we were testing, the engineers were saying that 1998 was the one that got away, but I said "don't be too sad, it was a good race, because you gave me a victory last year!"

'It is strange though, because I am in the car with Thierry Boutsen and Ralf Kelleners, which was the same car that I was trying to beat last year. We get on well now though!'

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