THE VISTEON PANOZ RACING TEAM TAKES ON THE 1998 24 HOURS OF LE MANS
BRASELTON, Ga., June 3 -- Two Visteon Panoz GTR-1s, powered by Roush-prepared Ford V8s, will lead the Visteon Panoz Racing Team's 1998 assault on the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 6 and 7. This is the first time in over 30 years that an American manufacturer has mounted a serious effort to win the famed French classic.
"This is the 'granddaddy' of racing, the biggest race in the world," says Don Panoz, founder, Panoz Motor Sports. "This race is why I got involved with sports car racing. I have confidence that the Visteon Panoz Racing Team is strong enough to take on the world's best manufacturers and teams."
Visteon Panoz # 44 will be entered by the French DAMS team, which is participating in the FIA GT Championship. It will be piloted by Eric Bernard (FR), Christophe Tinseau (FR), and Johnny O'Connell (USA). "We're looking forward to this race," says Jean-Paul Driot, owner, DAMS. "With Don Panoz's commitment to victory and a strong driver lineup, I feel that the DAMS Visteon Panoz will be a formidable competitor in this year's race."
David Brabham (AUS), Andy Wallace (GB), and Jamie Davies (GB) will anchor the second Visteon Panoz, # 45, entered by Panoz Motor Sports U.S. "There is no comparison to our effort last year," said David Brabham. "The Visteon Panoz Racing Team has continued to improve, and the GTR-1 keeps getting better at every race."
The Visteon Panoz GTR-1 has been specially prepared for the challenges presented at Le Mans. "Each track presents unique situations. We've prepared the car for this venue," says Tony Dowe, managing director, Panoz Motor Sports, "making changes as we develop engines and chassis for the rigors of Le Mans."
The 1998 Visteon Panoz GTR-1 features revised aerodynamics which improve its downforce-to-drag ratio. In addition, the car features reconfigured front and rear suspensions designed to work in concert with its Michelin tires.
"What a team can do to improve the chassis far outweighs any improvements that can be made to the engine," says Dowe. "Therefore, we improved both the balance and stability, which makes the car much better to drive."
What does the Visteon Panoz Racing Team think of its chances against the formidable competition? "We go to a race with the intention of winning," says Dowe. "That's the end of the story."