Panoz Motor Sport creew makes miracle comeback for car 11. SATURDAY, 15th June 2002 -- At 3.00am on Friday morning David Brabham, Jan Magnussen and Bryan Herta faced the realization that they could miss this year's Le Mans 24 Hour. A fire had...
Panoz Motor Sport creew makes miracle comeback for car 11.
SATURDAY, 15th June 2002 -- At 3.00am on Friday morning David Brabham, Jan Magnussen and Bryan Herta faced the realization that they could miss this year's Le Mans 24 Hour.
A fire had broken out in the car after Bryan Herta had struck some debris which punched a hole in the floor and damaged the oil filter.
Once the car returned to the pits nearly one hour after the conclusion of the 10.00pm to midnight qualifying session, the Panoz crew discovered the extent of the damage.
Not only had the fire destroyed major electrical wiring and damaged bodywork, the car's carbon fiber tub also appeared to be damaged.
After two hours of inspecting the damage, the team headed back to the hotel with the disappointment of being one car down before the race had even started.
But a handful of crew members were not about to give up without a fight.
Five crew members returned to the track for "one last look".
They started pulling the car apart to get a closer look at the damaged section. Within an hour, the chances of repairing the car remained slim. Within two hours, the outlook began to brighten and within three hours, their fierce determination began to look like it was going to pay off.
By the time the rest of the crew returned at 9.00am, car #11 had risen from the ashes and was set to take its place on the grid today.
After working through the night, the five crew members, Scott Naish, Rob Taylor, John Baggot, Kent Moon and team manager Andy Waldrep headed back to the team hotel for a shower and a couple of hours sleep.
The work was far from over, the remaining crew (later rejoined by the "all-nighter five") would work until 2.00am to complete the preparation.
"I am incredibly proud of what our guys have achieved," Team owner, Don Panoz said.
"Everybody was pretty shattered on Thursday night but this team is a bunch of fighters. This is what this event is all about.
"We all know the race is going to be very tough but the sheer determination of our guys in amazing."
For Bryan Herta, the roller-coaster ride of his first Le Mans 24 Hour has been a dramatic experience.
"After I got to bed on Thursday night I still couldn't sleep. The fact I was going to miss the race was a pretty gut wrenching feeling," Herta said.
"I didn't find out we would be back in until about 10.30am on Friday morning.
"I feel on top of the world now. I can't thank the guys enough. The effort they have put in to getting this car onto the grid is just incredible."