Washington DC: Panoz Motorsports race notes

Historic Washington D.C. win by Panoz after great battle. Panoz Motor Sports' Jan Magnussen and David Brabham pulled off a brilliant victory in the "Spirit of America" Panoz in the inaugural American Le Mans Series race at RFK Stadium in ...

Historic Washington D.C. win by Panoz after great battle.

Panoz Motor Sports' Jan Magnussen and David Brabham pulled off a brilliant victory in the "Spirit of America" Panoz in the inaugural American Le Mans Series race at RFK Stadium in Washington D.C. today.

After a titanic battle with both Audi R8s, Magnussen took the checkered flag over Tom Kristensen by only .766 of a second after 140 laps.

Magnussen took the lead for the first time on lap 41, but relinquished it shortly after when he made his first pit stop and handed over to Brabham.

Brabham diced with Emanuele Pirro for several laps, losing the lead on lap 73 and re-passing the Italian with a brilliant move in traffic two laps later.

Panoz pitted again on lap 93 with new Michelin tires being installed and Brabham handing back to Magnussen.

The Dane then chased down the two Audis, eventually regaining the lead on lap 104 and holding off Kristensen to the finish.

"I thought we had a chance today, but I really didn't expect to be leading more than half the race," Magnussen said.

"It was a fantastic battle. Tom got past me at one stage in traffic but I was able to get him back straight away. Once we got into clean air I was able open up a bit of gap but it was a brilliant fight.

"Michelin did a outstanding job for us today and the entire crew were amazing. I am very happy."

The victory was the seventh for Brabham in American Le Mans Series competition and the sixth for Magnussen.

"This result is just an amazing performance from the entire team," Brabham said.

"To take the stars and stripes 'Spirit of America' car to victory lane in the first ALMS race in Washington D.C. - particularly after 9-11 last year - is just a fantastic feeling.

"For their first race, the entire Washington event went remarkably well and was a real showcase for sportscar racing.

"This race has an enormous future and I am just so proud that our team was able to win the first event."

The victory is the second win for the Panoz team in 2002 - repeating the victory by Magnussen and Brabham at Sears Point in May this year.

Unfortunately for the #51 all-American Panoz of Bryan Herta and Bill Auberlen, their progress was delayed with an electrical problem after a fuel reset button failed.

"The car started to misfire badly and I had to come back to the pits," Auberlen said.

"The crew replaced the steering wheel which contains most the buttons and driver controls and that fixed the problem.

"For the second half of the race we had to fight out way back through the pack.

"It was disappointing for #51 car, but having the #50 take the victory is a great reward for the team. Hopefully we will have out turn soon."

Herta and Auberlen eventually finished in 6th place.

Run in tough hot and humid conditions, the race featured seven lead changes with Panoz leading 84 of the 140 laps.

The team will now begin preparations for the next round of the American Le Mans Series, round six of the championship at Trois Rivieres in Canada on August 3.

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Series ALMS
Drivers David Brabham , Tom Kristensen , Jan Magnussen , Bryan Herta , Emanuele Pirro