FIRST QUALIFYING SESSIONS, 24 Hours of Le Mans
Wednesday, June 3, 1998
The Visteon Panoz Racing Team had two good qualifying sessions today. The #44 Visteon Motorola DAMS Panoz GTR-1 saw the debut of Christophe Tinseau and the re-introduction of Johnny O'Connell to the Visteon Panoz Racing Team. Car #45, entered by Panoz U.S., was driven by David Brabham to eighth place overall, with a lap of 3:40.730. The two teams were experimenting with different setups today, #44 with a race setup, and #45 with a qualifying setup.
David Brabham, driver, #45 Visteon Panoz GTR-1: "Having Jamie and Andy (Wallace) drive before me certainly helped dial in the car for the track. The Michelin qualifying tires were excellent -- I could push the car very hard. I hit a bit of traffic, but I don't think it slowed me down that much. Now that we've done the qualifying run, we need to concentrate on the race."
Christophe Tinseau, driver, #44 Visteon Motorola DAMS Panoz GTR-1: "Le Mans is a fantastic track. It was difficult to learn today because I only had a ten lap stint during the daylight. At a different venue, I normally have over 30 laps to find the quickest way around the track, but because of the length of Le Mans, I could only get in ten."
Jamie Davies, driver, #45 Visteon Panoz GTR-1, who also made his Le Mans debut today: "In the early session, I tried to find the proper positions on the circuit, especially where to brake. There wasn't much to see on the track at night, so I had to learn it during the day. The only struggle I had was that there was no 300 meter marker board before a corner."
Tony Dowe, managing director, Panoz Motor Sports: "I was very pleased with the way that both car #44 and #45 worked together to develop race setup and performance development. I was very impressed with the work the crew on #44 did, particularly their pit work. The DAMS' team experience in the FIA GT series has certainly helped with their efficiency, while the U.S. Panoz crew has to get used to the ACO and FIA rules on pit procedures, which are slightly different."
Jean-Paul Driot, owner, DAMS: "We only worked on the race setup for the car and therefore did not use any qualifying tires today. This race setup helped us determine fuel efficiency and reliability figures, which are essential for the challenges of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. As Christophe Tinseau was learning the circuit and Johnny O'Connell was getting used to the Panoz, we view today as a learning experience. I am satisfied what we achieved, as we qualified our three drivers for night running, and we look forward to doing some performance testing tomorrow."
Two more qualifying sessions tomorrow will determine where the two Visteon Panoz Racing Team entrants will start in the race, which begins at 2pm (French time) on Saturday, June 6.