Laguna Seca: JML Team Panoz race report

Beretta and Saelens take fourth ALMS podium in a row JML Team Panoz stars Olivier Beretta and David Saelens stormed to their fourth consecutive podium finish in round seven of the 2003 American Le Mans Series at Mazda Raceway, Laguna Seca ...

Beretta and Saelens take fourth ALMS podium in a row

JML Team Panoz stars Olivier Beretta and David Saelens stormed to their fourth consecutive podium finish in round seven of the 2003 American Le Mans Series at Mazda Raceway, Laguna Seca today.

The Euro duo had previously finished on the podium at Trois Rivieres, Mosport and Road America and continued that run today by finishing 2nd in the LMP900 class and 3rd outright.

Beretta started from position six on the grid and made a brilliant start aboard the #10 Panoz to slot into fourth position on the opening lap.

The Diablo Grande Wines-sponsored car was then never troubled, running faultlessly throughout the race and picking up third place outright when the Champion Audi of JJ Lehto and Johnny Herbert were forced to make a gearbox change.

Beretta pitted after 55 minutes to hand over to Saelens who then completed a double stint on his Michelin tires to bring the car home.

Today's result marked a dramatically improved day for the JML squad whose efforts were cut in half yesterday when Benjamin Leuenberger crashed in qualifying - eliminating the #11 car from today's race.

The four consecutive podium finishes is the first for the Panoz marque since 2001 when David Brabham and Jan Magnussen climbed the podium at successive races at Infineon Raceway, Portland, Mosport and Mid Ohio.

The team will now set its sights on five consecutive podiums at Miami - a feat last achieved by the Panoz brand in the opening year of the American Le Mans Series in 1999.

OLIVIER BERETTA

"I am really thrilled for all the team because getting four podium finishes in a row is great achievement. "I was able to make a really good start and basically had no problems at all at the start of the race. "Everything really went to plan. Our fuel economy was perfect and Michelin's contribution to our performance can't be underestimated. "We had a small problem with the seat belts when David got in the car but other than that, our day really went exceptionally well. "We now have our sights set on making five podiums in a row at Miami."

DAVID SAELENS

"This is great for the guys on the team and I am really pleased to bring home a result like this especially since Gunnar and Ben weren't able to start this race. "I had a couple of close calls out there during my double-stint but everything went to plan. "I had two Ferraris spin at the corkscrew right in front of me towards the end - that was very close - I only just missed the Prodrive car which was rolling backwards back onto the track. "We lost a bit of time at our first stop with the belts, but everything ran faultlessly other than that."

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Johnny Herbert , David Saelens , David Brabham , Jan Magnussen , Benjamin Leuenberger , Olivier Beretta , JJ Lehto