McNish and Herbert to head Audi's challenge

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The Independent Online

Allan McNish and Johnny Herbert, both ex-Formula One drivers, head an illustrious line-up for Audi UK at this year's Le Mans 24-hour sports car race.

Three other Britons - Guy Smith, Darren Turner and Jamie Davies - plus Germany's Frank Biela and Pierre Kaffer make up the squad recruited for the two-car programme.

The British-based team compete at the Sebring 12 Hours in Florida next month and the inaugural four-race Le Mans Endurance Series in Europe. But the prime objective for Audi will be to reclaim domination of the French classic itself following defeat to Bentley last June.

The signing of McNish and Herbert underlines Audi's determination. Both are former winners of Le Mans and are among the very best sports car drivers in the world. The 34-year-old McNish had hoped to be given the final seat in this year's Formula One world championship, but now maintains he is committed to Audi. "I had a very successful time when I was with Audi previously and Le Mans is very close to my heart," McNish said.

Audi UK's fiercest opposition could come from sister cars run by American and Japanese teams. The 39-year-old Herbert said: "We're going to face some very tough competition from the other Audi teams."