PIRELLI CONTINUES PODIUM SUCCESSES
Aston Martin Earns Houston Podium While Porsche Gains Spa Victory
LEXINGTON, Ohio -- May 17, 2006 After GT victories at Sebring in March (Multimatic Panoz in GT2), Istanbul in April (Team Autorlando Porsche in GT2) and Silverstone in May (Vitaphone Maserati in GT1 and AF Corse Ferrari in GT2), along with seven additional podium finishes, Pirelli-shod teams earned three more GT podiums this past weekend, including a Le Mans Series GT2 win at Spa in Belgium.
In the inaugural Lone Star Grand Prix in Houston last Friday evening, the Aston Martin Racing DBR9s of Tomas Enge (Czech Republic) and Darren Turner (UK) in the #007 and Pedro Lamy and Stephane Sarrazin (France) in the #009 battled the factory Corvettes virtually from flag to flag, even leading on several occasions around the bumpy 1.7-mile street circuit. In fact, with just 30 minutes remaining, Sarrazin was charging only five seconds behind the second-place Corvette when he spun on some marbles while letting the Audi pass. Caught behind the pace car and low on fuel, the Astons had to settle for third and fourth in class and fourth and fifth overall.
Not as fortunate was the #50 Multimatic Panoz Esperante of David Brabham (Australia) and Scott Maxwell (Canada), GT2 winners of the 12 Hours of Sebring, which had a suspension failure while challenging near the end of the race. Their American teammates in the #51 Panoz, Gunnar Jeannette and Tom Milner, were even less fortunate suffering an engine failure after only six laps.
Both teams are looking forward to this Sunday's race at Mid-Ohio and a return to the form that they demonstrated in the opening round of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) at Sebring where they both set qualifying records. The Astons placed second and third in the endurance classic while the Brabham/Maxwell Panoz, along with two-time Champ Car champion Stephan Bourdais, fought off fierce competition from a Ferrari F430 and a cadre of Porsches to top the podium for the Esperante's second win (the first coming at Road Atlanta last year).
"We were fairly pleased with the performance of the Pirelli P Zero tires at Houston, especially considering the bumpy track conditions and everyone's lack of track time," commented Paul Hembery, Pirelli's worldwide motorsports manager. "We all expect the 13- turn, 2.25-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course to be more indicative of where we, both cars and tires, are competitively at this point in the season."
The 2 hours and 45 minutes American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio race will begin at noon (EDT) on Sunday, May 21, and will be broadcast live beginning at 1 p.m. (EDT) on CBS Sports. The ALMS Radio Web will have live coverage online at www.americanlemans.com. In addition, all ALMS races will again be televised live in Europe in a television arrangement between the series and MotorsTV, a European television channel dedicated to the world of motorsports.