Le Mans - France (June 15th, 2006) The Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz ...
Le Mans - France (June 15th, 2006) The Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz #77 Esperante GTLM has qualified seventh fastest in the hotly contested GT2 class for this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans.
After last night's torrential downpour, Scott Maxwell, Gunnar Jeannette and Tom Milner were greeted with dry conditions tonight. Maxwell set the fastest time on Pirelli qualifying rubber at 4 minutes, 6.642 seconds - faster than last year's leading Panoz in qualifying which stopped the clocks at 4 minutes, 7.027 seconds.
The team completed 39 laps in total tonight. The seventh fastest qualifying effort places the team in 43rd position overall for the race which kicks off at 5.00pm on Saturday.
"All three drivers are telling me they love the setup and believe it will be an excellent car for the race," Multimatic Vice President and Motorsports Technical Director, Larry Holt said.
"Qualifying wasn't as high as what we wanted, but I never had high expectations because we are being really conservative with our engine.
"In the end we made a couple of little errors in the timing of our qualifying runs. Pirelli gave us everything we needed, but we didn't capitalize on it properly - we didn't put Scott in the best position. Realistically, we probably could have only gained another couple of spots.
"But in a race lasting 24 hours, qualifying really means nothing but being the racers we are, we wanted to do better.
"At the end of the night Tom was running around in the 'tens' and Gunnar in the 'eights' - that is daylight race pace for us last year. We are basically going to swap the motor tomorrow, give the car a check over - but our set-up is perfect."
The No. 76 IMSA Performance Porsche 911 GT3 RSR took the class pole position but crashed heavily at the end of the qualifying session.
All the teams have a complete day tomorrow to finalize preparations for the 24 hour race. Race fans get the chance to show their appreciation to the drivers at the annual Grande Parade des Pilotes staged in down-town Le Mans starting at 6.00pm tomorrow.
Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz joined forces earlier today with Team LNT and a host of Panoz drivers from the past to commemorate the 10th year of Panoz at Le Mans.
Past and present Panoz drivers including David Brabham, Andy Wallace, Jan Magnussen, Olivier Beretta, Richard Dean, Lawrence Tomlinson, Tom Kimber-Smith, Tom Milner, Scott Maxwell, Gunnar Jeannette, Max Papis and Johnny O'Connell got together to honor Dr. Don Panoz with a commemorative cake in pit lane.
"We had a couple of shots on qualifying tires, but we couldn't quite squeeze out the time we would like.
"However, I am delighted with the race pace of the Panoz. The car is really strong on our standard Pirelli rubber and we have had a trouble free run over the past two nights.
"Obviously we would have liked to be a little higher but for such a long race like Le Mans, it really isn't a huge concern.
"Anything can happen in a race like this, but if we can make it through 24 hours I think we will be quite strong contenders."
"I am really pleased with the way the car is running. The way I feel is completely the opposite to how I felt after last night in the rain.
"We are able to run really consistent quick laps at night - I can't wait to come back Saturday and race this thing.
"Le Mans is such a special place and I am delighted to be back after missing the race last year.
"The entire build-up is fantastic and the driver's parade tomorrow night is always a highlight. Scotty and I have been telling Tom all about it, but you really have to experience it yourself to see what it is all about."
"It was great to get plenty of dry laps in tonight because it did take me a little while to get my bearings around this place at night and get all my brake markers right.
"After a few laps I got it figured out and pushed myself a little bit to try to find a bit more speed.
"I ran three laps all within a tenth of a second so I was very pleased with that. The Pirelli tires are really strong. Over a stint we loose a little bit of front grip, but nothing to severe at all.
"I am really looking forward to the driver's parade tomorrow and getting stuck into the race."