Panther Pumped to Get Matsuura Strong Japan Finish
Panther Driver Joins Vitor Meira for Saturday's Race at Twin Ring Motegi
MOTEGI, Japan. (April 18, 2007) -- Panther Racing is set to make a run at its first victory of the season this Saturday in the Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi. This weekend's event is a special one for Panther, as it's the home race for the Super Aguri Company and Japanese driver Kosuke Matsuura, who is looking for his best finish of the year after being taken out in each of his first two races.
Vitor Meira, fresh off his debut in the A1GP Series for Team Brazil, hopes to improve upon his 10th-place finish last season in Motegi. Meira, in his second season with Panther, started the year with a fourth-place finish in Homestead and encountered a gearbox problem in St. Pete that forced the open-wheel veteran into a 16th-place finish.
Matsuura and his Super Aguri Panther team are coming off difficult races in each of the season's first two events. Kosuke has crashed with Jeff Simmons in both the Homestead and St. Pete races, forcing his No. 55 team into 16th- and 17th-place finishes, respectively.
While Panther's best official result in Japan came in 2003, when Sam Hornish Jr. finished sixth, the closest they've been to victory at the 1.5-mile oval was in 2005. That year, Tomas Scheckter held a considerable lead in the late in the event before running out of fuel just before the final lap of the race. Scheckter had led the final 47 laps of the race until his fuel cell went dry.
"This is the biggest race of the year for me. For most people in the league, it's the Indy 500, but the Motegi race is very special for me as a driver. I've enjoyed working for Super Aguri Panther Racing so far this season, and just wish we would have had a better result. I'm going to make sure I stay away from Jeff Simmons this weekend."
"I'm excited. There are a lot of my friends from Delphi that attend this race and I know it's very special for my teammate Kosuke Matsuura. More than anything, I want to get back on the right track after our problem in St. Pete. We had an amazing setup in Motegi last season, but we had a shock break that didn't help us. I think this is going to be a good weekend for all of us."