US stars give added bite to Panoz 2002 driver line-up There will be some added stars and stripes flavor for the leading US-based prototype team in 2002 for the American Le Mans Series - Panoz Motor Sports. The Braselton, Georgia based squad ...
US stars give added bite to Panoz 2002 driver line-up
There will be some added stars and stripes flavor for the leading US-based prototype team in 2002 for the American Le Mans Series - Panoz Motor Sports.
The Braselton, Georgia based squad today announced Americans Bryan Herta and Terry Borcheller will team up aboard one of the team's revised LMP-1 prototype machines joining international regulars, Australian David Brabham and Danish driver Jan Magnussen.
"I am really delighted to welcome such a recognized and accomplished road course expert like Bryan Herta to our team," Don Panoz said.
"Bryan is a proven performer and his record both in Champ cars and in the junior formulas is outstanding and he should make a very handy addition to team and it is also fantastic to welcome such a high-profile name to our championship.
"Terry Borcheller has earned his spot with some great performances in the ALMS in the slower classes, but the work he has done so far with the team has been outstanding.
"I think they will make a great combination and having two Americans on the team will really give the crowds something to cheer for."
A two-time winner in CART, Herta is eagerly awaiting the chance to make his sportscar debut and making the transition from Champ cars.
"This is completely different to what I have done in the past and I am really looking forward to the opportunity," Herta said.
"Don (Panoz) invited me to try the car before Christmas and I really didn't know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised because the performance of the car was quite a bit higher than I expected.
"The carbon fiber brakes were exceptional and the car was really nice to drive. The other thing that impressed me was the team itself they know how to win and are highly motivated. As a driver, that is all that you can ask of your team."
Herta has enjoyed a glittering career in American road racing. He is a former winner of the Barber Saab Pro Series (1991) and also clinched the 1993 Indy Lights crown. Making his debut in Champ cars in 1994, Herta's Champ car career includes 43 top ten and 19 top five finishes including back-to-back victories at Laguna Seca in 1998 and 99.
The chance to contest the fabled 24 Hours of Le Mans was a key factor in Herta's move to the world of sportscars along with the opportunity to do battle on some of America's finest road courses.
"Without doubt Le Mans is one of the biggest races in the world and an event that every driver wants to do," Herta said.
"It was something that I have always wanted to do and I never knew when the opportunity would present itself. To have the chance to do it in a front running car like Panoz is a great opportunity.
"To also work with two of the best sportscar drivers in the world like David (Brabham) and Jan (Magnussen) is a great opportunity for me. I have a lot of respect for what those guys have achieved in their careers.
"I hope to be able to learn a great deal from them because this style of racing is very different to what I am used to in Champ cars.
"With four different classes, the traffic situation is going to be a lot more frantic and that is what makes it so great for the race fans. Maintaining a strong pace through the traffic is going to be a real challenge.
"The other exciting factor is the chance to race on some of my favorite tracks like Laguna Seca, Elkhart Lake and Mid-Ohio which I know well from my days in Champ cars."
Herta's team-mate Terry Borcheller has been one of the busiest and most versatile men in American road racing in recent years. His crowning glory was winning the GTS Championship in last year's American Le Mans Series earning him the chance to join the Panoz squad for 2002.
"When I first got the chance to try the car it was a bit overwhelming, but once I got out on the track, the car was very comfortable," Borcheller said.
"This is certainly the best opportunity of my career and I am really grateful to Don Panoz for the opportunity. I believed one day I might get the chance to compete in the prototype class, but I really couldn't see how I could make it happen.
"I have driven all sorts of cars in recent years but I really want to make the most of this opportunity.
"The Panoz team are a stellar group of guys and I am really looking forward to teaming up with Bryan (Herta). We actually raced against each other many years ago in Barber Saab and he has had a fantastic career.
"To be in a team with guys like David (Brabham), Jan (Magnussen) and Bryan (Herta) is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me.
"Don Panoz has given me a great opportunity and taken a chance on me and I will be out to repay him."
The Panoz team today began a three-day test at Sebring hosted by Michelin with Brabham, Magnussen, Herta and Borcheller on hand to sample the car.