Sebring: Auberlen, Van de Poele join Panoz

Auberlen And Van De Poele Added For Sebring Attack Panoz Motor Sports' assault on the 50th Anniversary Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring - Presented by Dodge, has been boosted with the addition of experienced sportscar aces Bill Auberlen and Eric...

Auberlen And Van De Poele Added For Sebring Attack

Panoz Motor Sports' assault on the 50th Anniversary Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring - Presented by Dodge, has been boosted with the addition of experienced sportscar aces Bill Auberlen and Eric van de Poele to its driving roster.

The team had originally planned to attack Sebring with a two-driver line-up in its pair of "Spirit of America" LMP1-Evo machines, but the availability of Auberlen and van de Poele, coupled with the expected fierce competition for the 12 hour marathon, resulted in a revised plan for the event.

"We fully expect Sebring to be a 12 hour sprint and after consultation with our drivers, we believed having three guys in both cars was going to be the most effective way to tackle the race," Panoz Team Manager, Andy Waldrep said.

"This team already has some of the fittest athletes in the series, but having the extra driver will enable them to be at their absolute peak for 12 hours."

Auberlen will join Bryan Herta and David Donohue in the #51 car for an all-American line-up. Van de Poele will drive with David Brabham and Jan Magnussen in the #50 machine.

Van de Poele and Brabham have worked together already in 2002 - teaming up aboard the Risi Ferrari at the Daytona 24 Hour for the second time this year.

"It is very nice of David and Jan to trust me to join them for Sebring," van de Poele said.

"They have a fantastic shot at victory and I just hope I can play a role in that. I really love the Sebring event and was quite upset that I didn't have a drive sorted for this year.

"I got a late call up for the Sebring race in 1995 and managed to win it. Hopefully history can repeat itself this year.

"I have also raced against the Panoz on many occasions and I am really looking forward to seeing what the car is like. I am really grateful for Don Panoz for this opportunity."

While van de Poele has Sebring victories in 1995 and 96 on his extensive resume, Bill Auberlen is also no stranger to success to the Florida venue. He won the IMSA GTU class in 1987, GT2 in 1995 and GT3 in 1997. Amazingly, he also contested all three classes at the 1996 Sebring event.

"If any car truly deserves to wear the stars and stripes it is the Panoz and I am just thrilled with the chance to drive the car," Auberlen said.

"To join with Bryan Herta and David Donohue will be fantastic and we are all looking forward to 'waving the flag' for the local race fans.

"It is also great to be back in a prototype car as well. Having raced in GT last year I know what it is like from the other side in a traffic situation and hopefully I will be able to use that to my advantage.

"David Donohue also has that experience. Bryan's outright speed is beyond question and David and I should be able to teach him a little bit about the traffic problem in this race."

The Panoz squad will hit the track for the first time tomorrow morning with the opening testing session for next Saturday's 50th anniversary event.

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About this article
Series ALMS
Drivers David Brabham , Bryan Herta , Eric van de Poele , Bill Auberlen , David Donohue , Don Panoz