We're British and we're Audi

Believe it or not, beyond the Bentley event horizon lie other British interests at Le Mans in 2003. And we're not talking about 'stiff upper lip', 'it's the taking part that counts', understated British-ness, we're talking Perry McCarthy and the Audi Sport UK team

We're British and we're Audi

Third on the grid might well be due to the finely honed efforts of three-time 24 Hours winner Frank Biela, but a team is a team and the fate of the #10 R8 will lie as much with McCarthy as Biela or, indeed, ex-F1 driver Mika Salo, in the race.

But what qualities differentiate Audi Sport UK from the ADT operation - featuring Pirro, Lehto and Johanssen - or Audi Sport Japan with Magnussen, Werner and Ara?

"A steely determination to succeed, and a deep, deep fear of losing," quips McCarthy. "It's an interesting blend of characters. We're non-stop taking the piss out of each other but at the same time we get on very well. And we're always putting our heads together in briefings and we're not afraid to put a finger up and ask questions. Sometimes Mike (Earle) sits us down and explains why something is necessary, and achievable, and sometimes he takes notes when we tell him it's not."

Team leader Earle insists that there are differences between the three VW-owned Audi outfits, and that the team culture in Audi Sport UK makes it more British than you'd expect.

"Put it this way," he says, "when it comes to sorting out the details, each of us has his own way of approaching things. And when it comes to the end of the race I'm sure the three team principals are going to lose each other's phone numbers, in the same way that the drivers on the last stints will go radio deaf and pitboard blind, if they're asked to come in for a driver change.

"We all professionals, we know what we're here for, but we're also human beings and there's no substitute for a win at Le Mans."

No-one knows who is likely to be in the driving seat at the end of the race, there are too many variables that can come into play over 24 hours, but one card all the teams are holding close to their chests is who's going to start for each team.

"We shall have to see," is the closed response from the team leaders, but McCarthy gave autosport.com his own ideas. "It's such a load of rubbish all this," he says. "They'll start Jan (Magnussen), we'll start Frank (Biela), and the others will probably start Manni (Emanuele Pirro)."

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