AMERICAN YOUNG GUNS GRAB SEASON-BEST EFFORT IN BITTERSWEET MOSPORT RESULT
Bowmanville - ON (September 4th, 2006) American young guns Tom Milner and Gunnar Jeannette pulled off their best result for 2006 in a bittersweet day for Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz at Mosport International Raceway yesterday.
While Milner and Jeannette finished 4th in the GT2 class in the home race for the Toronto-based squad, local hero Scott Maxwell and his team-mate David Brabham were forced out early after contact with the Lola prototype of Chris McMurry.
Ten minutes into the race, Maxwell had caught and passed the BMW of Justin Marks just as the leading prototype cars began to lap the GT2 entries.
With Maxwell moving to the inside to allow McMurry to pass around the outside coming onto the main straight, the prototype driver dived down the inside, pushing Maxwell sideways. The Canadian was pushed onto the wet grass and made heavy impact with the tire wall.
McMurry then spun and was heavily collected by Mark's BMW -- putting all three cars out of the race.
Jeannette and the #51 crew elected to pit under the ensuing safety car period to replace his tires. The American had taken to the grass to avoid a spinning Aston Martin at the race start and had begun to feel he had a tire deflating.
The stop did not lose the team any track position and importantly, put the #51 Panoz Esperante out of sequence with its rivals.
Resuming in 7th place, Jeannette had a trouble free run which eventually pushed the #51 car into the race lead as his rivals pitted.
With one hour remaining, Milner replaced Jeannette and resumed in 4th place. Further pit stops and trouble for rivals pushed the Panoz up to 3rd with only 45 minutes remaining.
However, fighting a lack of grip in the later stages of the race, Milner was passed by the GT2 championship leader, Johannes van Overbeek with only 18 minutes to go.
"I am really not unhappy with the day. Gunnar and Tom did a very good job and if we hadn't had tire performance drop off towards the end of the stint, we might have grabbed a podium," Multimatic Vice President and Motorsports Technical Director, Larry Holt said.
"We don't really have anything for the speed of the Ferrari but our car can still be pretty racey with the Porsche.
"It was pretty unfortunate for Scotty and especially for Brabs who didn't even get to do a lap. Scotty always gives the prototype cars plenty of room and certainly had no trouble letting the leaders by.
"Unfortunately, these GT cars can't just change lines like the prototype guys can. Once you are committed to a corner you can't just leap out of the way. We could have been on the podium with the #50, but now the car is a bit of a mess.
"The entire left hand side is pretty beat up -- it's not well at all."
"It's obviously disappointing to come all the way to Toronto and not get in the car but that happens in racing sometimes.
"The important thing is that Scotty is fine because it was a fairly solid hit on the driver's side of the car.
"It is a bit of a pity because he said the car actually felt pretty good and he had already worked his way around one of the BMWs.
"The guys will now get stuck into repairing the car and getting everything ready for Petit Le Mans. We tested at Atlanta recently and the Panoz was fairly strong so I am confident we should be pretty competitive."
"I am a bit stiff and sore, but I was able to walk away without any major problems.
"The entire weekend was a little bit frustrating however, the car wasn't too bad in the race.
"We were hoping for a bit of rain because we had a softer set-up on the #50 car.
"I had left plenty of room for all the 'P' cars and moved to the inside for McMurry. Unfortunately, he dived into a hole and once I hit the damp grass it was all over.
"It is certainly annoying to go out so early, especially at my home track.
"I hadn't raced at Mosport for three years and was really looking forward to getting to the finish."
"Tom and I had a pretty reasonable day. A podium would have been nice but we pretty much ran a flawless race with no mistakes.
"The start certainly got my attention because I had to go to the grass to miss the Aston Martin which had spun coming onto the main straight.
"We took the chance to pit early when the yellow came out because of Scotty's accident. It felt like we had a tire going down.
"Once I got back out the car ran faultlessly and it was great to actually lead five laps during the round of pitstops."
"It was an OK day for us - nice to pick up our best result of the year. We had no mistakes all day and it was certainly a step in the right direction for Gunnar and myself.
"Realistically 4th was about as good as we could have hoped for.
"A podium would have been nice but the Flying Lizard car was closing pretty fast. Our car wasn't the best in turn five and he was able to move up the inside and get by.
"If it was only a couple of laps to go I could have tried to block a little harder to try and hang on for third, but I knew I couldn't hold him off for the final 18 minutes."
-credit: multimaticmotorsports/team panoz