Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz target best Panoz Sebring result since '98 At this week's Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz will set its sights on giving the Panoz brand its best result at this historic venue...
Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz target best Panoz Sebring result since '98
At this week's Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz will set its sights on giving the Panoz brand its best result at this historic venue since 1998, when Panoz veteran David Brabham teamed with Andy Wallace to finish 2nd overall and win the GT prototype class.
But since that time, Sebring has proven to be a tough nut to crack for the Braselton, GA, manufacturer.
A top five finish by Gunnar Jeannette, Olivier Beretta and Max Papis in the Panoz LMP-1 in 2003 has been the closest that Panoz has come to a podium finish or class win since that time.
But following recent testing at Sebring and Road Atlanta, Multimatic Vice President and Motorsports Technical Director, Larry Holt believes the team has a serious shot at the GT2 class victory.
[sebring_preview2_lr.jpg] "Sebring is certainly the toughest venue on the entire American Le Mans Series calendar -- finishing twelve hours at Sebring can be more difficult than completing the 24 hours of Le Mans," Holt said.
"The bumps make it extremely tough on the equipment but we were able to do a lot of laps at the Sebring test without any major issues.
"That was the most pleasing aspect of the test. While our outright speed was excellent, the reliability factor will be the secret to success at Sebring next week."
The two Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz machines will do battle with 14 other entries in the GT2 class including eight Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs, two BMW E46 M3s, two Spyker C8 Spyders, a single Ferrari 430 GT and another Panoz Esperante GTLM entry from the British-based Team LNT squad.
From last year's Panoz Motor Sports entry, Scott Maxwell and Gunnar Jeannette return for 2006 in the Multimatic-prepared Esperantes.
Maxwell will team with Brabham in the #50 car for the entire ALMS season while Jeannette will drive with ex-BMW youngster Tom Milner.
Two-time Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais with partner with Maxwell and Brabham at Sebring, while Boudais' Newman-Haas Racing team-mate, Bruno Junqueira, joins Jeannette and Milner in the #51 machine.
"Based on the testing we have done so far, I think we are in a great position to start the season with a strong result - it has been very encouraging.
"Sebring is certainly the toughest race of the year but our level of preparation has been outstanding.
"Traditionally, Sebring has been one of the races I haven't really enjoyed in the past, mainly because when I have done the race I haven't had a competitive package.
"This year is different though. We have a great line-up of guys and I feel we can give the Panoz fans something to cheer for."
"There is a great energy aout the Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz program at the moment and I really think we are going to have a great year.
"We have a great bunch of guys and the car has been really nice to drive in the testing we have done so far.
"I can't wait for the week to start here because Sebring is such a great event.
"The reaction from the fans is always brilliant and I am really pleased to be back here again.
"I think we will be very strong but the Job and Petersen Porsches are going to be tough here and the BMWs will be right there as well."
"You never really know where you are in relation to your opposition until you arrive for the first race but I am really looking forward to the challenge ahead - both for this race and the entire ALMS season.
"I have had some excellent days at Sebring in the past - winning for Aston Martin was great last year in GT1 and 3rd for Bentley here was fantastic as well.
"When you are in a position to fight for the podium - the race becomes a lot easier as a driver.
"You don't feel the bumps and heat becomes a lot more bearable."
"Out of all the races on the American Le Mans Series schedule - this is one which I have been really looking forward to.
"Sebring has such a huge history in international sportscar racing and it will be great to be a part of that this year.
"This will not only be my first Twelve Hours of Sebring as a driver - it will also be the first time I have been to the race.
"The cars have been very quick in testing and we have a great line-up of drivers.
"I honestly think we could have the car to beat this year."
"Doing Sebring in the Panoz is going to be great because it is always important to get as much seat time you can.
"Our testing is very restricted in Champ Cars so it is handy to get additional miles at this time of year. The race is going to be very interesting as well because the competition in GT2 is looking very strong -- I am really looking forward to the battle.
"It is also great to do the race with Multimatic. We know each other well from what they do for Newman-Haas in Champ Cars and obviously from the Mustang race I did with Dad in January at Daytona.
"The Panoz campaign also looks to be in very good shape since Multimatic took over the entire program this year as well."
"This will be my first race after the accident at Indianapolis last year so I can't wait to go racing again - I am really looking forward to it.
"It will be good to spend a couple of days testing in the car at Sebring before the race because this will be an entirely new experience for me.
"I have a lot to learn because obviously the Panoz is a lot different to my Champ Car but at the end of the day, it is still a car with four wheels, a steering wheel and a set of pedals.
"The car was obviously very fast when the team tested here recently and I really hope we can do well - it will be a great way to start the year."