Jetalliance Racing: “Operation Le Mans” is on!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Jet Allaiance
The green light for the 77th edition of the Le Mans 24 hour race will be given on June the 13th at 3pm. And for the first time since 1972 an Austrian team will be taking part as well – Jetalliance Racing!

“When we founded the team about three and a half years ago, Le Mans was one of our big goals. I wouldn’t have dared to dream back then that this might become reality so quickly. That’s why I’m delighted with the invitation by the ACO”, team owner Lukas Lichtner-Hoyer says. “That’s not only the reward for our achievements in motorsports but also a recognition of our professional work.”

Preparations at the JAR headquarters in Oeynhausen are in full swing since the entry was officially confirmed. The crew of mechanics is working almost round the clock on the Aston Martin DBR9, which has to be specially modified for the Le Mans race: a smaller fuel tank, air conditioning, changes to the aerodynamics and so on.

“We’re right on target. Now the countdown is on”, says Lichtner-Hoyer, who has also made a decision concerning the driver line-up. Apart from the team owner himself, Alex Müller and Thomas Gruber will be on board in France. Both drivers have been part of the JAR family for quite some time. Lichtner-Hoyer has already celebrated some great results with 30 year old Müller in 2008, for instance a second place in Oschersleben, his first FIA GT podium finish. On the other hand Lichtner-Hoyer has also partnered the 49 year old Thomas Gruber from Vienna in many endurance races. In 2008 Gruber took the overall “Endurance” title of the Porsche Sportscup.

For all three drivers it is the first Le Mans start. Therefore Lichtner-Hoyer & Co. imposed a special fitness programme on themselves, but they will also co-drive a race together beforehand.

The “6 Hours of Spa” as a dress rehearsal

In order to be ideally prepared for Le Mans, the team will contest the “Six Hours of Spa” Le Mans Series event as a dress rehearsal. Lichtner-Hoyer/Gruber competed there in 2007 at the wheel of an Aston Martin DBR9, finishing fifth in class back then. The race takes place on 10 May 2009.

The chequered flag is the target

Everyone at Jetalliance Racing is aware of just how tough the Le Mans 24 hour race is: “We’re realistic enough to know that, coming from a different form of racing to the world’s toughest and most difficult endurance race, we might have to learn the hard way. We have great respect, but we’re going to France highly motivated. We took the first step by gaining an entry, now we want to follow up with the next one. That is to say, our goal is to cross the finish line on Sunday. If we manage to do that, a top result in the GT1 class is possible.”

24h of Le Mans – a race with a lot of history

The race was first held in 1923, then with the idea of giving manufacturers a chance to be able to prove the reliability of their cars and showcase the latest stage of development. Today Le Mans is the quintessential endurance classic. The track consists of two parts, the “Circuit de la Sarthe”, named after the eponymous river, which mainly uses public roads, and the permanent “Circuit Bugatti”, where the pits and the start/finish straight are located. Over the course of time, the entire circuit has been revised and slowed down several times due to safety concerns.

The most successful driver is Denmark’s Tom Kristensen, who has been victorious eight times overall so far. But there are also three Austrians on the winners list: Jochen Rindt (1965), Dr Helmut Marko (1971) and Alexander Wurz (1996).

Anniversary year for Aston Martin

Aston Martin is celebrating a big anniversary at Le Mans this year: Fifty years ago Carroll Shelby and Roy Salvadori, driving an Aston Martin DBR1, claimed the first overall victory for the English marque.

Definitely another reason why Aston Martin moved up to the LMP1 class this year, leaving GT1, which they won for the past two years, to privateer teams. Two of those will be competing, Jetalliance Racing being one of them.

Heinrich Karner of Aston Martin Austria: “We are very proud that Jetalliance Racing, the team we co-founded, will race the Aston Martin DBR9 in this traditional event, headed by Lukas Lichtner-Hoyer, in this of all years.”
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