SECOND QUALIFYING SESSIONS, 24 Hours of Le Mans
Thursday, June 4, 1998
The Visteon Panoz Racing Team continued to experiment with different setups in preparation for the rigors of the 24 Hours of Le Mans on Saturday. The #45 Visteon Panoz GTR-1, qualified by David Brabham in yesterday's sessions with a 3:40.730 lap, will start 11th in a field of 47. The #44 Visteon Motorola DAMS Panoz GTR-1 will start 18th, and was piloted by Eric Bernard with a 3:44.602 lap in today's session.
Andy Wallace, driver, #45 Visteon Panoz GTR-1: "I'm very happy with the car. I believe we've achieved a really good race setup -- the car is very balanced. The Michelin tires were excellent."
Eric Bernard, driver, #44 Visteon Motorola DAMS Panoz GTR-1: "We've made some changes on the car to work with the race-spec engine, however qualifying position for a 24 hour race is not the most important thing. A good race setup and good feedback on fuel consumption are more valuable than speed at this stage."
Johnny O'Connell, driver, #44 Visteon Motorola DAMS Panoz GTR-1: "I know the Le Mans circuit, and right now I'm concentrating on learning the car. The car is very sound and we're still working on a proper race setup. I defer to Eric Bernard on the setup of the Visteon Panoz because he's had the most seat time in the car. The power is very good, but there are some differences here that do not show up in an American endurance race such as the Daytona 24 Hour. American circuits are somewhat shorter than Le Mans, and the difference in terminal velocity of the GT1 and GT2 cars is higher, so I've had to change my passing strategy. On the long straights of the Mulsanne, the difference between the cars may only be about 20 - 30 km/h, while at Daytona it is more drastic, which makes passing easier."
Tony Dowe, managing director, Panoz Motor Sports: "Today went pretty much as planned. We gathered data to do a lot of race settings and setups that we might need to put on the car as conditions change during the race. I'm quite pleased with the performance of the #44 car on their qualifying tires, and I'm pleased with the attitudes and times of both Christophe Tinseau and Johnny O'Connell. The reliability of the car and the position we've arrived at is extremely good. Now we just have to concentrate on the race and think through all the options and strategy that will be necessary because of the very competitive field."
Don Panoz, founder, Panoz Motor Sports: "I think we're starting in a very good position on the grid. We've shown a great improvement from last year, but the whole field has also progressed quickly. It looks like it will be tough, but I think we're in for a good 24 hours."
Tomorrow the Visteon Panoz Racing Team will be making final race adjustments to the cars. The race begins at 2pm (8am EST US) on Saturday June 6 and will be broadcast on Speedvision.