MULTIMATIC PANOZ SQUAD HEADS OUT WEST FOR NEWEST ALMS VENUE ASSAULT Toronto - ON (July 10th, 2006) Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz has its sights set on getting its championship assault back on track when the team visits the newest venue on...
MULTIMATIC PANOZ SQUAD HEADS OUT WEST FOR NEWEST ALMS VENUE ASSAULT
Toronto - ON (July 10th, 2006) Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz has its sights set on getting its championship assault back on track when the team visits the newest venue on the American Le Mans Series schedule this week -- Miller Motorsports Park in Salt Lake City.
While the search for speed in Utah has been pursued since 1912 at the Bonneville Salt Flats only 100 miles away, the new Miller Motorsports Park facility is set to establish itself as one of the premier state-of-the-art road courses in North America.
Located 33 miles from downtown Salt Lake City, the new track features a 4.5 mile long, 40-50 foot wide, 24-turn layout -- the longest circuit in North America.
The venue has become the new home track for Multimatic Panoz star Gunnar Jeannette who moved to Salt Lake City earlier this year.
The #50 and #51 Panoz Esperante GTLM machines finished 6th and 7th in the last round of the championship at Lime Rock Park -- both cars requiring extensive bodywork repairs after a visit to the shortest venue on the ALMS calendar.
Miller Motorsports Park this week becomes the 20th venue visited by the American Le Mans Series in its eight year history -- joining Sebring, Road Atlanta, Mosport, Infineon Raceway, Portland, Mazda Raceway -- Laguna Seca, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Silverstone, Nurburgring, Texas Motor Speedway, Adelaide, Mid Ohio, Road America, Washington D.C., Trois Rivieres, Miami, Lime Rock Park and the other new venue for 2006, Reliant Park at Houston.
Of the 19 venues contested to date, the Panoz marque has tasted the champagne in victory lane at eight of those tracks -- winning at Sebring, Road Atlanta, Mosport, Infineon Raceway, Portland, Nurburgring, Mid Ohio and Washington D.C..
Following the Salt Lake City event, Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz will head north to Portland for round six of the 2006 title assault the following weekend.
The back-to-back races represent an ideal opportunity to chase down points leader Johannes van Overbeek (Flying Lizard Porsche). After Lime Rock, David Brabham and Scott Maxwell slipped to equal third place in the driver's standings -- 20 points adrift of the Porsche driver.
However, with 20 points up for grabs for a race victory -- a pair of strong performances over the next two races could put the Australian/Canadian combination back in contention.
Jeannette and team-mate Tom Milner will also be chasing their first podium result for 2006 after clinching their first race finish at Lime Rock. The young American duo's Lime Rock chances were spoilt after contact with the Porsche of Klaus Graf.
After four rounds, Panoz remains second in the manufacturer's standings and Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz holds the same position in the team's title chase.
"Obviously the next two weeks are very important -- two good races here would really set us up well for the remainder of the season," Multimatic Vice President and Motorsports Technical Director, Larry Holt said.
"The new track in Salt Lake has a pretty varied combination of corners and I believe our cars should be well suited round there.
"Gunnar has done a few laps around Miller Motorsports Park so he has been able to give us a bit of an idea as to what to expect.
"The guys in the shop have worked pretty hard to get the cars turned around and reloaded into the trucks for the trip out West. The cars came back from Lime Rock with the roof as basically the only straight panel.
"The team is looking forward to checking out the new venue. We've heard nothing but good reports and we'd love to add a ninth track to the Panoz ALMS win roster this week."
"I have never been to Salt Lake City before but I heard it is a great place and the new track is very good - quite long and extremely challenging.
"Whenever I go to a track for the first time I like to look around the course at all the corners and take note of little things like the kerbs, surface changes, track textures - build a picture in my mind of what a lap is like.
"After 22 years of racing, I tend to learn new circuits pretty fast so that is handy.
"We are now at the half way point of the season and it will be extremely important to come away from this weekend with some good results.
"Building on some strong momentum at Salt Lake City will be very important for us in challenging for the championship."
"I am looking forward to these back-to-back races because it really is time for us to stake our claim on the championship after a difficult weekend in Lime Rock.
"The track will be new for everyone but we will have our 'secret weapon' in Gunnar who has already done plenty of laps out there.
"While David and I learn the track in the first session, I think Gunnar should get up to speed pretty quickly and we will all be going over his data pretty thoroughly looking at what gears he is using on specific parts of the track and comparing braking points.
"It will be two new tracks in a row for me because I haven't been to Portland before either. For most guys at a professional level learning new tracks is fairly easy.
"The first 95% comes really quickly - it is just finding that last two or three tenths of second on a quick lap that is more of a challenge."
"The track here in Salt Lake City is really awesome - I believe it is going to be regarded as the top facility in the US.
"It's long, wide, has lots of high speed corners and I think it will make for some excellent racing.
"This track seems like a no-expense spared project and anybody who visits here will really see that. The garages are brilliant, great views for spectators, a museum, excellent go-kart track - pretty much anything you could ever want at a racetrack is here.
"Since moving out to Salt Lake City I have been driving a few laps doing instructing and coaching and I can't wait to drive the Panoz here.
"It is such a new venue for the locals but I think interest is going to grow quickly - you can't drive around town without seeing billboards, and seeing and hearing other advertising for the race."
"All year Gunnar and I have been fast, but unfortunately we haven't been able to show it in most of the races.
"At Lime Rock I ran in fourth place early on, right with the lead pack so hopefully we can continue that speed this weekend.
"That was really encouraging for both of us.
"From what I have heard, Miller Motorsports Park is an excellent circuit. This will be my first time in Utah so I am looking forward to that.
"I have been looking at a lot of videos on the web and track maps. I think the biggest challenge will be learning the circuit because there are not a lot of reference points and there are a lot of corners - it can be easy to actually lose where you are on the racetrack."