Sebring: Max Papis race report

JML Team Panoz finishes fifth overall in flawless 12 Hours of Sebring run. The No. 10 Panoz LMP01/EPP of "Mad Max" Papis, Olivier Beretta and Gunnar Jeannette had good success at the 51st annual 12 Hours of Sebring race Saturday, finishing fifth...

JML Team Panoz finishes fifth overall in flawless 12 Hours of Sebring run.

The No. 10 Panoz LMP01/EPP of "Mad Max" Papis, Olivier Beretta and Gunnar Jeannette had good success at the 51st annual 12 Hours of Sebring race Saturday, finishing fifth overall in a flawless run. The car started sixth on the grid and maintained that position most of the race, until the No. 9 Audi R8 experienced gearbox problems which forced them behind the wall for several laps, moving the Panoz up to the fifth overall position.

"We've been running the car at its full speed for all 12 hours," said the Italian Papis. "We kept the Audi behind us and were the only team to split the Audi-Bentley front. It was a flawless 12 hours in the pits and a very good team effort. We almost had to pace ourselves. We were at the limit of the car all the time and running strong."

"Michelin did a great job in giving us good tires and that was one of the keys to our success," added Papis. In today's race, Michelin reached a milestone, as they led the 12 Hours of Sebring race for 5,000 consecutive miles, ever since the last 18 laps of the 1999 race. Panoz, BMW and Audi teams all contributed to the 1,352 consecutive laps led at the 3.7-mile track.

"It's a pretty amazing finish," continued Papis. "Many people didn't give a lot of credit to us. Our program started quite late and everyone has really pulled together for a good result for John (McLoughlin). We've all worked together and everyone showed a great proof of character." [Team owner McLoughlin suffered a stroke two weeks ago.]

"We will now go home, regroup and see where we need to improve and set our sights on LeMans," said Papis.

The No. 1 Team Joest Audi R8 of Frank Biela, Marco Werner and Phillipp Peter won the race with a 13.493 second margin over the Champion Audi R8 driven by Emanuele Pirro, Stefan Johansson and JJ Lehto. Third and fourth place finishers were the No. 8 and No. 7 Bentley Speed 8 cars, respectively.

Today's fifth-place was the best ever Panoz finish at the 12 Hours of Sebring, with a previous best of eighth last year.

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Series ALMS
Drivers Stefan Johansson , Frank Biela , Max Papis , Gunnar Jeannette , Marco Werner , Olivier Beretta , Emanuele Pirro , JJ Lehto