Charlotte; Brabham''s Panoz Squad Keen to Fight Back

2000 LE MANS SERIES - ROUND TWO, CHARLOTTE PREVIEW ROUND TWELVE ADELAIDE'S RACE OF A THOUSAND YEARS - December 31, 2000 Aussie sportscar star David Brabham has his sights set on bouncing back in the Le Mans Series points standings when the ...

2000 LE MANS SERIES - ROUND TWO, CHARLOTTE PREVIEW ROUND TWELVE ADELAIDE'S RACE OF A THOUSAND YEARS - December 31, 2000

Aussie sportscar star David Brabham has his sights set on bouncing back in the Le Mans Series points standings when the championship visits the Charlotte Motor Speedway in the U.S. this weekend.

Brabham and the Panoz team suffered a set-back at the opening round of the championship at Sebring two weeks ago when a blown engine put their machine out of the race with team-mate Jan Magnussen behind the wheel.

The Panoz team has been working frantically to prepare the two team cars for the weekend, including the fitting of power steering for the first time.

Staged in the heartland of NASCAR territory, the Charlotte race utilizes part of the banked oval as well as a sweeping infield road course section.

"Sebring was very disappointing, but it is vital we come away from Charlotte with a good result, otherwise the BMW and Audi teams will get too far ahead," Brabham said.

"Power steering will be a big help, especially on the banking. My team- mate Johnny O'Connell tested at Charlotte before the start of the season and he was worn out after a few laps - and Johnny is a pretty solid guy.

"We had the speed to match the BMWs at Sebring, but the Audis were a step ahead - especially in the horsepower stakes."

Audi are yet to announce their driver pairings for Charlotte, but the German manufacturer has a talent packed squad on its books with Frank Biela, Tom Kristensen, Emanuele Pirro, Rinaldo Capello, Michele Alboreto and Allan McNish to choose from for the four available spots.

BMW will also be looking for improvement after finishing third and fourth at Sebring behind the Audis. JJ Lehto will drive the lead car with Jorg Muller. American Bill Auberlen and Frenchman Jean-Marc Gounon will be hoping for better luck after Gounon crashed their BMW heavily in practice at Sebring.

The leading factory cars are also expecting a strong challenge from the Rafanelli Lola privateer entry pilotted by Mimmo Schiattarella and former 500cc motorcycle rider, Didier de Radigues.

While Brabham was a disappointed man after the opening round of the series, fellow Australian Rohan Skea was delighted after one of his two Porsche 911 GT3R GT category cars finished second in class at Sebring with David Murray and young British driver Johnny Mowlen behind the wheel.

Skea Racing will return to battle at Charlotte with Skea himself competing in the team's second car.

The GTS battle between the American muscle car brigade will again be a fight between the Dodge Viper and Chevrolet Corvette.

While the Corvette took pole position at Sebring with Ron Fellows behind the wheel, the Vipers struck back in the race to earn the top three positions on the GTS podium.

South Australia will host the final round of the Le Mans Series - Adelaide's Race of a Thousand Years - on New Year¹s Eve this year.

The event - a three-day festival of motorsport, music and fun, features three classes of Le Mans' vehicles doing battle around the old Formula One circuit. More than 40 cars are expected to race.

-Paul Ryan-

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Series ALMS
Drivers David Brabham , Rinaldo Capello , Didier de Radigues , Tom Kristensen , Jan Magnussen , Allan McNish , Ron Fellows , Johnny O'Connell , Bill Auberlen , Ryan Paul , Michele Alboreto , Mimmo Schiattarella , Jean-Marc Gounon , David Murray , Emanuele Pirro , JJ Lehto