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FEBRUARY 6, 2001

Lauda confirmed as CEO of Premier Performance Division

NIKI LAUDA was confirmed as the new chief executive officer of the Premier Performance Division of the Premier Automotive Group in London on Tuesday.

Premier Automotive Group is the Ford motor company business responsible for Jaguar, Aston Martin, Volvo, Land Rover and Lincoln.

As expected, Austrian Lauda will coordinate and support the motor sport activities of Jaguar Racing, Cosworth Racing and electronics company Pi.

"It is good to be back in racing on a full-time basis," said triple world champion Lauda, who has not been in racing full-time since 1985. "I am looking forward to getting started on the challenge ahead.

"My role will be to help put in place the building blocks to enable all these companies to realize their full potential and to work together to the best effect."

Lauda will effectively replace Neil Ressler, the former vice-president and chief technology officer of Ford, who has decided to retire.

Lauda won his world championships in 1975 and 1977 with Ferrari and in 1984 with McLaren. The Austrian also survived an horrific crash at the Nurburgring in Germany in 1976, when he was read the last rites.

Lauda relinquished his role as owner of Lauda Air 11 weeks ago after selling the airline company to the Austrian Airline Group and his appointment to overlook Jaguar Racing's Formula One operation is seen as a big asset.

Jaguar Racing team principal Bobby Rahal said: "Niki's knowledge of all aspects of Formula One racing and his proven credentials as an astute businessman make him the ideal choice for this position."