MULTIMATIC MOTORSPORTS TEAM PANOZ READY TO FIGHT THE BIG GUNS IN TEXAS Toronto - ON (May 5th, 2006) Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz is ready to hit the streets in Reliant Park, Houston next week for the second ever street course event for the...
MULTIMATIC MOTORSPORTS TEAM PANOZ READY TO FIGHT THE BIG GUNS IN TEXAS
Toronto - ON (May 5th, 2006) Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz is ready to hit the streets in Reliant Park, Houston next week for the second ever street course event for the Panoz Esperante GTLM.
Fresh from victory in the GT2 class at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the Multimatic squad is out to capitalize on the championship lead held by David Brabham and Scott Maxwell aboard the #50 Esperante.
The race will be only the second street course event tackled by the Esperante. The Braselton, GA-built car raced for the first time in ALMS GT2 spec at Road Atlanta in 2003 and made its street course debut in Miami later that year.
Brabham and Maxwell will again be joined by American young-guns Gunnar Jeannette and Tom Milner who unfortunately dropped out of the opening round of the 2006 championship at Sebring due to a driveline failure.
The two young stars are headed to Houston early next for the ALMS Lone Star Grand Prix -- taking part in a media conference on May 9 at the Reliant Arena media center. Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz will also take part in the Klein Tools Pit Crew Challenge immediately after the conference.
The Reliant Park 1.7-mile temporary street track surrounds Reliant Stadium - home of the Houston Texans NFL team and the Reliant Astrodome.
Built in 1974, the Astrodome was the first domed structure of its size created without a pillar supporting it in the center.
"Houston is a whole new ball game for everybody and the entire field is on equal ground because nobody has any previous data to go by in establishing a set-up," Multimatic Vice President and Motorsports Technical Director, Larry Holt said.
"Our sponsor Pirelli has actually been out to Houston to check out the track surface and make a recommendation as to what tires to run and we will be starting the weekend with a set-up developed from our four-post test rig in Toronto.
"We pretty much have to race what we have straight off the trailer. It's a two-day event you don't have a lot of time to fine tune the car.
"We had a great battle at Sebring, but the competition in GT2 keeps getting tougher and tougher. The Italians must be taking our 'flamed-out hot rods' pretty seriously because Risi has brought in the top guns from Europe with Jaime Melo and Mika Salo driving the Ferrari 430.
"The Porsche guys will be out for revenge as well and Patrick Long is back in the Peterson car -- we know we will have a big fight on hands when we get to Texas."
The 2 hour, 45 minute Lone Star Grand Prix will be staged from 8pm on Friday, May 12 and will be broadcast on CBS the following day from 1.00pm to 2.00pm
"I really enjoy the challenge of driving new circuits for the first time. It is going to be very challenging at the start because nobody knows the track and there will be very little grip early on.
"The discipline will be to not change the car too much because the track will be changing all the time.
"But Houston should be a great weekend. It's a great city and it feels great to arrive in Texas leading the GT2 championship.
"Racing at night will be a big challenge -- especially on a street circuit. This will be the first race laps I have done at night on a street track like this."
"Looking at the map of the track, Houston looks like a typical street circuit with lots of 2nd and 3rd gear corners. The track has a pretty long straight but the circuit will be very hard on brakes and probably quite bumpy.
"It's a bit hard to tell what it is going to be like until we actually get there.
"I am not sure how well our car will be matched to this type of track but certainly the weekend should be a race of attirition.
"There will be no room for error and the plan will be to ensure we leave Texas with a solid points haul. We'll obviously go for the win, but Mid Ohio should suit us a lot more the following week."
"This will only be my 3rd street circuit I have raced at and it I think it will be kind of cool to race around the Astrodome.
"Doing the race at night should also be a big challenge and a lot of fun. Getting a strong time in qualifying is going to be important because I think it is probably going to be pretty tough to pass.
"Tom and I are very keen to bounce back after falling out of the race at Sebring. We were thrilled to see the other guys win -- but it was a bitter pill to swallow for us after the driveline problems on our car."
"I've seen some pictures of the track surface and it does look a little bumpy -- not as nice as the Washington DC race the ALMS had a few years back.
"I think it will be very slippery -- particularly early in the weekend, but I am really looking forward to it. Houston will be only my second street race and the first one I have done in a closed top car like the Panoz.
"Racing in to the night on a track like this will be a new experience and I think getting as many laps as we can in practice is going to be crucial for getting a feel for the place."