QUALIFYING SESSION October 9, 1998 PETIT LE MANS Road Atlanta Atlanta, Georgia PANOZ MOTORSPORTS HAD AN EVENTFUL PRACTICE AND QUALIFYING DAY AT ROAD ATLANTA, PREPARING FOR THE INAUGURAL PETIT LE MANS, 1,000 MILES RACE SCOTT PRUETT, DRIVER...
QUALIFYING SESSION October 9, 1998
PETIT LE MANS Road Atlanta Atlanta, Georgia
PANOZ MOTORSPORTS HAD AN EVENTFUL PRACTICE AND QUALIFYING DAY AT ROAD ATLANTA, PREPARING FOR THE INAUGURAL PETIT LE MANS, 1,000 MILES RACE
SCOTT PRUETT, DRIVER OF THE #4 VISTEON PANOZ GTR-1, EARNED HIS TEAM A FIFTH ROW START WITH A FAST LAP OF 1.16.951.
"I tried to just get a solid lap without taking any chances. Not being as familiar with these cars as some of my fellow drivers, it's tough to get out there and put one together with pretty questionable track conditions. I went out there, ran a solid run -- now we'll go racing."
THE #07 PANOZ GTR-1 BROKE GROUND AS THE FIRST ELECTRIC HYBRID CAR TO QUALIFY FOR AN AUTO RACE. THE #07 TEAM, WHICH WILL START TWELFTH (FOURTH IN-CLASS) TOMORROW, WAS NOT WITHOUT ITS SHARE OF PROBLEMS TODAY.
John Nielsen, qualifier. "We had the crash this morning so we were running a repaired car for the first time. On my second lap when I passed the line some smoke came into the cockpit, and I slowed down immediately. I had no warning. I came into the pits and the team saw that the engine was having some problems. Unfortunately it had left a lot of oil on the circuit".
The cause of the oil leak is not known, but will be investigated by the team this afternoon.
HAVING HAD A TROUBLE-FREE PRACTICE SESSION THIS MORNING, #5 VISTEON PANOZ GTR-1 DRIVER JOHNNY O'CONNELL WAS AT THE WHEEL WHEN AN INCIDENT AT TURN 12 PREVENTED HIM FROM FINISHING THE SESSION.
"This is a huge disappointment, particularly here at Road Atlanta, the team's home circuit. We had a very good car this morning. I was very much looking forward to qualifying the car. Qualifying is your opportunity to really go hard and attack -- so you enter it in attack mode. I guess I was the unlucky one to be the first to hit the oil. The moment I turned the steering wheel I was going backwards. I've done a lot of stunt driving and normally you can direct a spin a little bit. But I knew I was coming at a hard angle to a really stout wall that would hurt. I didn't know what had happened until I was riding in the ambulance and saw the oil. I was really disappointed. This is the bad part of the sport."
O'Connell was taken to the track medical center, given a full exam and released in good health shortly after the accident. Car #5 will not run tomorrow as the chassis is damaged and beyond repair in the time available.