Le Mans - France (June 17th, 2006) Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz has suffered a heartbreaking early retirement at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with the ...
Le Mans - France (June 17th, 2006) Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz has suffered a heartbreaking early retirement at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with the #77 Panoz Esperante being left stranded on course with an empty fuel tank after only two and half hours.
Gunnar Jeannette was due to hand over to Tom Milner on lap 34 when his Ford engine "coughed" coming through Indianapolis corner, but then failed to make it to the start of the Porsche curves.
Despite calculations indicating the car should still have seven liters of fuel in the tank, Jeannette was stranded on the side of the road when his car ground to a halt.
With only the driver permitted to work on the car while out on track, Jeannette spent two hours investigating the problem including pulling apart the fuel cell to find an empty tank.
After a strong opening stint by Scott Maxwell, Jeannette had moved up to fifth place in class despite an unscheduled pit stop for a wheel vibration.
"Obviously, everybody is shattered at the result because we really believe we had a car that could have challenged strongly for victory here," Multimatic Vice President and Motorsports Technical Director, Larry Holt said.
"I have personally apologized to Don Panoz - we don't know what happened because all our systems and calculations indicated we still had plenty of fuel.
"Our race was running right on schedule and it wasn't as if we were trying to push our fuel mileage too far.
"I am very disappointed for my guys because of all the work that has gone into this assault. It is also pretty tough on Tom not getting to do any laps in the race. For his first time here, he did a brilliant job and I really believe he, Scotty and Gunnar had the chance to win this thing.
"This one hurts pretty bad. But that's what motor racing can do - Sebring was one of the highest of highs and this is at the other end of the scale.
"We now have to set out sights on the ALMS championship - we are disappointed tonight but tomorrow we start work on Lime Rock."
Scott Maxwell: "I suppose it is pretty frustrating because we had a really good car and a great strategy - the entire package of the drivers, the crew, the tires ... everything felt really strong.
"But we only did two stints and you have to do 21 or 22 to finish the race. It is obviously very disappointing because we knew the car was going to be really strong during the night. We had a really solid package.
"It is the same amount of effort that goes into making one lap or 24 hours and these guys have been working hard on this for months. "We all felt pretty down because we believe we had a good shot at victory."
Gunnar Jeanette: "I tried everything trying to get the car going again. We have a small kit of tools in the car for occasions like this, but you can't add any fuel out on course. When the car stopped, I flicked just about every switch trying to get the car going again.
"After I got the tank open and pulled all the foam out, there just wasn't enough fuel there to get going again. I feel really sorry for Don, Larry and all the guys because they gave us a fantastic car but it wasn't to be."
Tom Milner: "I'm certainly not mad with anybody about missing out on driving in the race because this entire week has been one of the greatest experiences I could imagine. "This is the greatest race in the world and just a brilliant race track and I can't wait to come back here again next year. "Whether you make one lap or go the full distance, the entire atmosphere is just brilliant.
"The crew and everybody did a great job but luck just didn't fall our way. That is what racing is all about sometimes."