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International stars Andy Priaulx, Dirk Müller and Joey Hand will team up in the famous Le Mans 24-hour in France this weekend – then battle against each other on the streets of Surfers Paradise in the Armor All Gold Coast 600, October 21-23.

Priaulx will rejoin Team Vodafone while Müller and Hand will both be a part of Dick Johnson Racing’s Jim Beam-backed Ford team on the streets of the Gold Coast. At Le Mans this weekend the trio will drive a BMW M3 GT.

The three join this year’s Indy 500 pole sitter Alex Tagliani to be confirmed in the Armor All Gold Coast 600 field with the remaining 24 drivers being announced in coming weeks.

A world-class field of 18 internationals took to the track as co-drivers with regular V8 Supercar drivers last year – the number increases to 28 this year with every Supercar including an international star.

The international stars will team-up with home-grown Australian talent such as Craig Lowndes, Mark Winterbottom, Jamie Whincup, James Courtney, Steve Johnson, Jason Bright, Will Davison, Russell Ingall, Garth Tander and Rick Kelly.

“It’s fantastic that these three international drivers will be cutting loose at the Armor All Gold Coast 600 this year,” Queensland Sport Minister Phil Reeves said.

“I’m sure our Australian drivers will welcome drivers like Andy Priaulx, Dirk Müller and Joey Hand and put up some stiff competition.

“Events like the Le Mans 24 hour will help get them highly tuned to be part of this iconic Queensland V8 Supercar event.”

This year’s event will not only include some of the biggest names in world motorsport, but also from the world of entertainment with the event’s Rock and Race format to continue with nightly concerts at the Broadwater Parklands entertainment precinct.

More drivers will be announced in coming weeks before the entire field, ticketing options and world-class concert acts are announced at the event’s official launch in mid-July.

“Where else can international drivers go to experience V8 Supercar action combined with surf, sun and fun, than at The Gold Coast 600,” Minister Reeves said.

“The event showcases Queensland’s best assets to an international audience.” WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY …

Andy Priaulx – TeamVoadfone

“Racing in Surfers last year was an amazing experience,” said Priaulx.

“I love street circuits and this is definitely one of the best I have driven on. I would have been very disappointed if I had not been asked back by Roland Dane and Triple Eight this year, so thank you for the invite and also a big thank you to BMW for letting this happen.

“The fans also just blew me away, as they are so enthusiastic and knowledgeable. I have a lot to live up to this year, as in 2010 I was the highest finisher of the international drivers.

“I know the competition will be tougher this year, as there are a lot more of us ‘visitors’ including Dirk and Joey, who are my team mates here in Le Mans. I may not let them into too many secrets about the event, as I don’t intend giving up my crown easily.”

Joey Hand – Dick Johnson/Jim Beam Racing

“To me the key to this race is the fact I am always anxious to compete against the best drivers in the world, and this is just the opportunity I will have in the Gold Coast,” said Hand.

“ I love the idea of the organisers inviting the best drivers from many series around the world. There are some challenges there as the cars are right hand drive, but again this is not something that will phase me as I have already had experiences sitting this side of a race car.

“We are heading for a street fight and this is the sort of racing I feel I fit to perfectly. I have already won this year in the BMW M3 GT round Long Beach so can’t wait to get on the streets of Surfers Paradise.

“I am looking forward working with the legendary Dick Johnson and I am delighted BMW is allowing me and my Le Mans team-mates to compete in this race.”

Dirk Müller – Dick Johnson/Jim Beam Racing

“I’m really excited about joining Jim Beam Racing and Dick Johnson’s team for the Gold Coast 600 at Surfers Paradise,” said Müller.

“I have heard so many positive things about this event, so cannot wait to go there and support the team’s campaign.

“I have very fond memories of Australia. The last time I competed there was in Adelaide in 2000. I won the race and claimed the ALMS GT title.

“The racing in V8 Supercars is amazing, and I’m really grateful to BMW Motorsport for giving me this opportunity to be a part of the Gold Coast event.”

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