Sears Point: Panoz Motosports race notes

Brabham and Magnussen take Panoz Sears Point victory. David Brabham and Jan Magnussen pulled off a barnstorming victory for Panoz in round two of the American Le Mans Series at California's Sears Point Raceway today. The day for Panoz was made...

Brabham and Magnussen take Panoz Sears Point victory.

David Brabham and Jan Magnussen pulled off a barnstorming victory for Panoz in round two of the American Le Mans Series at California's Sears Point Raceway today.

The day for Panoz was made even sweeter with Bryan Herta and Bill Auberlen joining Brabham and Magnussen on the podium in third spot.

The race started under safety car conditions with heavy rain sweeping the circuit. After the initial six laps were run behind the safety car, Brabham made a brilliant start to pass both the Audis on the opening lap to grab the race lead.

Brabham opened up a large gap but as conditions started to dry, he was passed by Tom Kristensen's Audi after 70 minutes.

The winning car pitted after 86 minutes with Brabham handing over to Magnussen. The Kristensen Audi pitted one lap later, but Magnussen was able to regain the lead which he never relinquished.

A flat tyre and a crash by the two Audis delayed their progress, but Magnussen still faced mounting pressure to hold off Johnny Herbert at the finish to take victory by only .482 of a second.

"The car was really good in the wet conditions and I was able to pull away from the Audis but when the track started to dry our set-up was a little soft for the dry conditions," Brabham.

"Kristensen started to push hard and got past me and I was trying the best I could to try to hold on as we stretched our fuel consumption as far as I could.

"Michelin really gave us a brilliant tyre to still turn strong times on wet tyres in dry conditions."

Magnussen switched to slicks at the pit stop and was able to charge home for the seventh American Le Mans Series victory for Panoz, the fifth for himself and the sixth for Brabham.

"It was really tough at the finish because Herbert was closing fast and I had to really push as hard as I could," Magnussen said.

"This is a great result for the team because they have put in so much work in recent months in building our new aero/transmission package.

"This will really give everybody a major boost in the lead-up to the Le Mans 24 Hour."

The podium finish by Herta and Auberlen was the first for the new Panoz Motor Sports drivers.

Auberlen was one of the first drivers to switch to click tyres on the drying track and later handed over to Herta who completed the race.

Like Brabham, Auberlen made a storming start from position 11, making his way up to fourth by the first yellow flag period after 25 minutes.

"We faced the same problems with David and Jan when the track tried because of the wet set-up, but we are both delighted with the result," Herta said.

"It has really been a fantastic day for the team to take first and third and hopefully we can build on things from here."

The third Panoz entry of Gunnar Jeannette and David Donohue however, did not have the same fortune.

An anti-roll bar failure during the wet morning warm-up sent Jeannette heavily into the wall, badly damaging the front of the car and putting them out for the day.

"It was a pretty disappointing way to finish our weekend, but the overall day was a success for the team," Jeannette said.

"David and I would have loved to been out there to try to make it a Panoz 1-2-3 but it wasn't to be."

Panoz will now set their sights on a major pre-Le Mans endurance test at Crows Landing airstrip in California this week.

"Today was fantastic for the team, but we still have a lot of work to do to catch Audi at Le Mans," Team founder, Don Panoz said.

"We are delighted with the victory, but everybody knows Le Mans will be a very tough test. The positive aspect is we will head to France in a winning frame of mind and with very high spirits - this is a great morale booster."

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers Johnny Herbert , David Brabham , Tom Kristensen , Jan Magnussen , Bryan Herta , Bill Auberlen , David Donohue , Gunnar Jeannette , Don Panoz