F3000 driver Saelens signs with JML Team Panoz

JML Team Panoz has signed Belgian Formula 3000 ace David Saelens to drive the Panoz LMP-01 in for the remainder of this year's American Le Mans Series as well as the Le Mans 24 Hour. Saelens tested the Panoz LMP-01 at Road Atlanta recently and...

JML Team Panoz has signed Belgian Formula 3000 ace David Saelens to drive the Panoz LMP-01 in for the remainder of this year's American Le Mans Series as well as the Le Mans 24 Hour.

Saelens tested the Panoz LMP-01 at Road Atlanta recently and will join forces with Swiss, Benjamin Leuenberger; and Canadian, Scott Maxwell in the #12 Panoz at Le Mans.

This #11 Panoz will be piloted at Le Mans by American, Gunnar Jeannette; Monegasque, Olivier Beretta; and Italian Max Papis.

The six international stars will be on hand for the forthcoming Le Mans Preliminary test day scheduled for May 4.

Saelens is eagerly awaiting the chance to race the Panoz after spending 2002 doing selected Formula 3000 races and acting as test driver for the Minardi Formula 1 team.

"I am really excited about this opportunity because it is another world opening for me to race in the United States for the first time," Salens said.

"It was a great experience to drive the Panoz for the first time. I was really surprised with how comfortable the car felt - it really gives you a lot of confidence.

"It is obviously very different from an F3000 or F1 car, but it wasn't anywhere near as difficult as what I expected."

Saelens has enjoyed a glittering career in junior formulas, winning French Formula 3 championship as well as the prestigious Marlboro Masters Formula 3 race at Zandvoort in Holland in 1998.

He also spent a season in 2001 as an official works driver with AMG/Mercedes in the German DTM Championship.

"It will be great to make my debut at Le Mans because I have a lot of great memories from clinching my French Formula 3 championship on the Bugatti circuit," Saelens said.

"It will also be my first Le Mans 24 Hour, so I am really looking forward to the whole experience."

The JML Team Panoz squad is hoping to continue from their strong performance from the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring where both cars finished in the top 10.

"We surprised a lot of people with how the cars ran at Sebring and our plan at Le Mans is to continue this strategy," Team Manager, Andy Waldrep said.

"The secret to our Le Mans is going to be to get out there, run our own race, stay out of trouble and make sure we get the cars home to the finish.

"Our current group of drivers are very intelligent and know exactly what is required to be successful in races like this. David's approach to his recent test was very professional and I am certain he will make a very valuable addition to our team."

DAVID SAELENS

2002
- F1 test driver Minardi

2001
- F3000 championship with Minardi
- Official works driver in DTM with AMG/MERCEDES

2000
- F3000 with Team Super Nova in a season which included 3 pole positions (including Monaco) and 3 podium finishes

1999
- Rookie of the year F3000, 1 podium finish
- Qualified 2nd in Sebring 12 hours with Eric Van De Poele

1998
- Winner of the Marlboro Masters F3 Zandvoort
- French F3 Champion 14 wins out of 18 races

1997
- 3rd in French F3 championship including 3 wins

1996
- Runner up in the European Formula Renault championship
-3rd in Spa-Francorchamps 24 hours with BMW

1995
- Benelux champion Formula Renault

1988-1994
- Go karting; 5 times Belgian champion and winner of several international kart meetings.

-pmg-

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About this article
Series ALMS , Le Mans
Drivers David Saelens , Max Papis , Scott Maxwell , Gunnar Jeannette , Benjamin Leuenberger , Olivier Beretta