"Mad Max" Papis is in Europe, ready to test in Le Mans, France for the 71st running of the 24 Heures du Mans. Papis, who joined the JML Team Panoz team for selected races during 2003, was signed to drive with Olivier Beretta and Gunnar Jeannette...
"Mad Max" Papis is in Europe, ready to test in Le Mans, France for the 71st running of the 24 Heures du Mans. Papis, who joined the JML Team Panoz team for selected races during 2003, was signed to drive with Olivier Beretta and Gunnar Jeannette for the prestigious 24-hour European race. Max also competed with the team at the 12 Hours of Sebring, finishing fifth in its inaugural race as a privateer team.
"I'm glad to be back driving at Le Mans again," said the Italian Papis. "I haven't been to The Sarthe since 1998, when I drove the Ferrari 333 SP. It will be great testing the Panoz LMP-01 at Le Mans this weekend and getting a feel for the historic track again. I love Le Mans because I followed races there since I was a young boy and I know a lot about the history. Many of my racing heroes drove at Le Mans over the years."
This year's twice-around-the-clock European enduro will be held on June 14-15th. The organizers have changed the test day this year to include eight hours of practice on Sunday, May 4, at the Circuit de La Sarthe, the 8.625-mile circuit that includes some permanent portions as well as parts of French public roads. Practice will be from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. and again from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m. All 50 selected teams, as well as six reserve cars, will participate in the test day. The LMP 900 class, in which the two-car team of JML Team Panoz will compete, has a total of 16 cars entered, including five that compete regularly in the American LeMans Series.
Papis has been very busy lately. He recently tested a NASCAR Winston Cup car for Ray Evernham's Dodge team, where he got advice from veteran NASCAR driver Bill Elliott. Papis competed over 80 laps at Kentucky Speedway in a successful test, which earned him praise from both Evernham and Test Team and R&D Coordinator, Sammy Johns. He joined the Evernham Motorsports team at Fontana, California last weekend as their guest for the NASCAR race.
Also, Max was at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last week to talk to a few teams about a possible ride in this year's upcoming Indy 500 race. Papis, always one to be a step ahead and ready for what may come his way, prepared car seats and talked to team engineers to get up-to-date on the latest Indy car technology.
"It has been a very busy time for me," said Papis. "I am talking with many people about many different possibilities, both for this year and next year. My focus this weekend will be sports cars and endurance racing. I continue to work out constantly and am in strong physical and mental condition. I enjoy the endurance racing and always love the opportunity to come back to Europe to race. Although I have many wonderful new fans in America, some of my European fans go way back to my racing days in Formula One or even Formula 3000. It's always special to be cheered on by fellow Italians too."