SONOMA, Calif. - The multi-national team members of Panoz Motor Sports all have two things in common - the burning desire to win and an impatience to return to the twisting, roller-coaster challenge that is Sears Point Raceway. Having finished...
SONOMA, Calif. - The multi-national team members of Panoz Motor Sports all have two things in common - the burning desire to win and an impatience to return to the twisting, roller-coaster challenge that is Sears Point Raceway.
Having finished second and third at the 1999 race, the two scarlet Panoz LMP-1 Roadster S prototypes will be heading for California directly from their three-month sojourn in Europe with the aim of moving that one place higher up the podium - onto the winner's step at the American Le Mans Series Grand Prix of Sonoma, July 21-23.
Australian driver David Brabham and his Danish teammate Jan Magnussen will be driving car #1, while American Johnny O'Connell is teamed with rising Japanese star, Hiroki Katoh, in car #2.
"I love this track because there are some good, fast flowing sections mixed with a tight road course stadium," O'Connell said. " It's a challenge for drivers and engineers alike which is really satisfying when you achieve a good set up.
"It's vital to have a well balanced car, with maximum downforce and suspension control achieved through good damping. It's very physical for the drivers as there is no time to rest and, as it's a relatively short track, there's always traffic to contend with as well."
The Georgian-based team recently competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where all five Panoz entries (two Panoz Motor Sports factory cars and three private entries) crossed the finish line. The team's drivers are therefore well used to traffic on the track and, having also experienced 90-degree heat in France, all will be well-prepared for the physical ordeal ahead under the Californian sunshine.
Qualifying takes place Friday and Saturday with the Grand Prix of Sonoma set for noon on Sunday. It's a 2 hour, 45-minute endurance race.
Gates open at 7 a.m. Friday-Sunday and ticket prices are as follows: $5 on Friday, $25 on Saturday and $40 on Sunday. A three-day pass is available for $50. Children 12 and under are free. For more information, call 800-870-RACE or visit www.gospeedway.com and link to Sears Point Raceway.