Road America: JML Team Panoz race report

JML Team Panoz earn third consectutive ALMS podium finish. Olivier Beretta and David Saelens staged a classic fight back to grab 2nd in class and 3rd outright in an outstanding result for JML Team Panoz at the Road America 500 today. The...

JML Team Panoz earn third consectutive ALMS podium finish.

Olivier Beretta and David Saelens staged a classic fight back to grab 2nd in class and 3rd outright in an outstanding result for JML Team Panoz at the Road America 500 today.

The podium finish by the Euro duo marks the first time a Panoz entry has earned three consecutive podium results in the American Le Mans Series since 2001.

Saelens made a barnstorming start to run fourth in the early stages of the race, battling with the MG Lola of Butch Leitzinger.

Leitzinger had been delayed after making contact with the JMB GT-class Ferrari entering turn five allowing Saelens to launch an attack.

After the MG Lola was assessed a stop-go penalty for the Ferrari contact, Leitzinger again defended his line entering turn five, only to find Saelens already alongside.

The contact send the MG off the track and IMSA officials later hit the JML Team Panoz squad with a one minute pit stop penalty!

Despite the severe penalty taking the #10 car out of outright contention, Saelens and Beretta began a classic fight back which eventually pushed the Panoz LMP-01 up to 2nd in class and 3rd overall at the race finish.

The #11 Panoz of Gunnar Jeannette and Benjamin Leuenberger were on target to join their team-mates on the podium when the car suffered a battery failure at the first pit stop.

The 21-year-old young gun combination lost several laps in the pits while the problem was fixed and began a charge through the pack to be 10th at the checkered flag.

Importantly, the duo were able to claim 4th in class, just missing out on a podium position in class.

The American Le Mans Series now heads west to California for the seventh round of the championship at Mazda Raceway, Laguna Seca on September 5-7.

OLIVIER BERETTA

"David did a fantastic job off the start and ran very strongly with the Audis which is fantastic because we are only a small team going up against a major manufacturer.

"We are very happy with the result because this is our third podium in a row which is great for the team.

"Considering we didn't run on Friday, the result is even more pleasing because we were behind a little on sorting the car for this track.

"Personally, I am very happy because Mosport was a tough race for me and I am pleased to come home with a strong result here."

GUNNAR JEANNETTE

"Today was a bit of a tough one for the #11 car but getting home to 4th in class is still a good haul in points.

"I would have loved to get back on the podium after Mosport but this weekend wasn't to be.

"We certainly had the car to do it and Ben did a great job with me, but the battery problem was just one of those things.

"My consolation was winning the Tonka STRANA Super Truck race at the end of the day.

"It was a real thrill to be part of the first weekend of the Super Truck series and I really look forward to driving these 10,000lb racers again - it was a lot of fun."

DAVID SAELENS

"The car was really strong today and it was just a pity what happened with the penalty.

"To get third spot overall and 2nd in class is outstanding considering we were forced to stay for a minute in the pits - that was very disappointing.

"Olivier and I are forming a great combination and I am really pleased for the team because they worked so hard since last weekend to get the car ready.

"Michelin played a big role this weekend because the tire combination they came up with really made a difference - it put us right on the pace."

BEN LEUENBERGER

"We were very unlucky today because we could have ended up on the podium if the battery didn't die in the car.

"The team did a great job to get us back out as quickly as possible and we just had to press on as hard as we could because you never know what can happen in races like this.

"Getting fourth in class is a good reward for the guys.

"Personally, I am really starting to get comfortable with the car. I now have a couple of sprint races under my belt and I can't wait to get back in the car at Laguna Seca."

-pmg-

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