The JML Team Panoz No. 11 entry of "Mad Max" Papis, Olivier Beretta and Gunnar Jeannette finished an impressive fifth overall in the 71st running of the 24 Heures du Mans race. "Fifth place is the best finish we could have expected and I am very...
The JML Team Panoz No. 11 entry of "Mad Max" Papis, Olivier Beretta and Gunnar Jeannette finished an impressive fifth overall in the 71st running of the 24 Heures du Mans race.
"Fifth place is the best finish we could have expected and I am very glad we actually achieved it," said Papis. "We arrived here and nobody really expected much from us, but we quietly said don't count us out. Everybody at JML Team Panoz pushed very hard - the drivers, the crew, the engineers - this was a strong effort. It took a lot of effort from everybody and we had a flawless race. Many thanks go to Michelin whose tires were perfect, as always. We probably achieved the goal of 'best of the rest' behind the Bentleys and Audis and that is a not a bad result at all."
Papis, Beretta and Jeannette all gave brilliant driving performances which included a battle to the end with the No. 13 Courage Competition Judd and the No. 15 Racing for Holland Dome Judd. All three cars ended up on the same lap 360, under a minute apart.
"Gunnar and Max did a brilliant job and I have really enjoyed being part of the team for the Le Mans assault," said Beretta. "Nobody expected we would get a result like this, so that is what makes it so much sweeter. It has been a team effort. It's great to be racing with Max again. I have known him for many years and know he is a fantastic driver. Gunnar has also done a great job in the race."
Dr. Don Panoz was proud of the team's effort. When asked about Max's driving performance, he remarked, "They don't call him 'Mad Max' for nothing!"
This weekend's fifth place result by Papis, Beretta and Jeannette equaled the best ever performance by a Panoz in the LeMans 24 Hour race in 2000 by Johnny O'Connell, Hiroki Katoh and Pierre-Henri Raphanel.
Papis had to quickly jet back to the U.S., as he will be joining the PK Racing CART Champ Car team this coming week at Portland and for the balance of the 2003 season.