JML Team Panoz Le Mans 1000km test report

The Panoz "Batmobile" hits the track at Le Mans. The sound of the Elan Power Products V8 may have had a familiar ring, but sportscar fans this week have been treated to the sight of the Panoz "Batmobile" for the first time since 1998. JML...

The Panoz "Batmobile" hits the track at Le Mans.

The sound of the Elan Power Products V8 may have had a familiar ring, but sportscar fans this week have been treated to the sight of the Panoz "Batmobile" for the first time since 1998.

JML Team Panoz has completed two days testing on the Le Mans Bugatti circuit in preparation for this weekend's Le Mans 1000km.

The American-based JML squad has teamed up with the French DAMS team, which is assisting in running the car this weekend.

The French DAMS mechanics are very familiar with the American Coupe with the team having run the car during the 1997 and 1998 seasons in the FIA GT Championship.

With extensive experience in sportscars and open wheel formulas including Formula 3000; DAMS recently claimed the European Formula Renault V6 championship.

Their assistance proved vital in yesterday's session with the JML squad arriving late after having their flight cancelled from the US on Monday night.

The team sat on the plane for four hours while repairs on an engine problem were undertaken. After the repair proved unsuccessful, their flight was postponed until the following night.

After initially looking like the team would miss Wednesday's activities, David Saelens took to the track with only the DAMS crew and his usual engineer and engine man on-site.

Olivier Beretta took over testing duties today with the full complement of JML and DAMS staff on hand.

Wednesday and Thursday's three-hour testing sessions proved valuable in preparations for Saturday's two qualifying sessions and Sunday's 1000km event.

The car ran faultlessly throughout both days with the only problem coming at the end of the second day when contact between Beretta and a slower car damaged the right hand side bodywork.

OLIVIER BERETTA

"The car is quite quick around here but this weekend will be pretty tough because the opposition is very strong.

"Teams like Pescarolo know this track very well because they are based only about 100 meters from the start-finish line.

"For us it is an entirely new experience because this is a new car for David and I and it is the first time we have run on this circuit.

"I don't know whether we will have the outright speed in qualifying, but over a race distance I think we will be very strong.

"David and I have had a great string of podium finishes in the American Le Mans Series and we would certainly like to continue that run this weekend."

DAVID SAELENS

"Wednesday was quite a strange day because I didn't think we were going be running because the guys had trouble with the flight, but I am certainly glad we made it on track.

"We improved the car quite a lot during the session and found about 2 1/2 seconds during the afternoon.

"The car is running exceptionally well and the progress we have made is quite extraordinary.

"The tires Michelin have provided have been ideal for these conditions and I am really confident we are going to be quite strong on race day.

"Our American Le Mans Series program was very strong and I think we can continue that here."

-pmg-

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Series LEMANS