Heartbreak For Panoz As The ...
Heartbreak For Panoz As The #51 Challenge Falls Short
Panoz Motor Sports' gallant attack on the 50th Anniversary Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Dodge, came within 40 minutes of rewarding the team with a dream podium finish.
The #51 car of Bryan Herta, David Donohue and Bill Auberlen was running in 3rd position when Herta made his final scheduled stop.
With the David Brabham, Jan Magnussen and Eric van de Poele car out early with engine problems, the #51 all-American crew had flown the flag for the "Spirit of America" squad.
However, with a podium spot almost in sight, Herta suffered a master cylinder brake failure - sending his brake pedal to the floor.
"I am really disappointed because the boys had worked so hard to make this happen but it wasn't to be," Herta said.
"The car was fantastic all day and the Michelin tires were actually quite amazing. Through double stints the car stayed really strong.
"It would have been great for the crowd to have an all-American crew on the podium but we will have to come back and get them next year."
Despite the problem, Herta climbed back aboard the car at the end of the event for two slow laps to be classified in 7th place in the LMP900 class.
For David Donohue, the second-generation racer was thrilled with the opportunity to compete in the prototype class.
"This car undoubtedly has the most character in the field and I was really thrilled with the chance to drive it here," Donohue said.
"What happened was really unfortunate because the guys on this team really deserved a result. A lot of work has gone into the improvements in this car and although we had our troubles during the week - on raceday we had a really good car."
A podium result would also have been the fairytale ending for Bill Auberlen's late call-up to the team for this weekend.
"It was a very disappointing moment at the finish, but everybody on the team should still be proud of what they achieved," Auberlen said.
"We fought pretty hard for a result after the other car had bad luck early, but it wasn't to be. This race can be pretty tough."