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Visteon Panoz Racing Team Perseveres at Road Atlanta

21 June 1998

Eric Bernard
BRASELTON, Georgia, June 21 -- Plagued by a broken propshaft, a flat tire, an off-track, and intense heat of almost 100 degrees, the #5 Visteon Panoz finished second in the GT1 class and eighth overall in today's 3 hour and 45 minute, 162 lap WSC/GT race. First place in GT1 was claimed by the #38 Porsche 911 GT1.

Eric Bernard drove the #5 Visteon Panoz GTR-1 to its hard-earned finish. "I did the best that I could out there against the heat and the tough competition of the WSC and the other GT cars," he said. "The Visteon Panoz was very strong and the Michelin tires were the best tires for this track."

Eric was also impressed at the speed of the Visteon Panoz Racing Team's repairs, "I must applaud the team for their quick change of the propshaft -- only 15 minutes. That's incredible!"

"I had a tough time out there with a slippery track and traffic, but the Visteon Panoz was great," said Raul Boesel, co-driver of the #5 Visteon Panoz GTR-1. "The team worked quite well together and made sure that whatever problems we had out there were fixed quickly and efficiently. I'm not very happy with second, but we'll get them at the next race."

The #45 Visteon Panoz GTR-1, driven by Doc Bundy and Johnny O'Connell, retired on lap 99 with gearbox trouble. David Brabham was piloting the #45 when it retired, after his entry, the #4, was involved in an accident earlier in the race with Andy Wallace behind the wheel.

The accident occurred on lap 36, when the #28 InterSport Wheel Works WSC entrant collided with the #4 Visteon Panoz GTR-1 in turn four. The #4 was knocked off the track and slammed into a tire retaining wall, and was unable to return to the race. Wallace was looked over by the Road Atlanta Motorsports Complex medical staff and was released, bothered only by a sore neck.

Tony Dowe, managing director, Panoz Motor Sports, was tired after the race. "If somebody told me that this race was 3 and 3/4 hours, I would have told them he was lying, considering the amount of work that we've done today," he said. "Second was not a good result for the amount of effort put forth. The way the team handled adversity was quite good. We've learned quite a lot about the way that things can go wrong and how to deal with it, which is a positive aspect of today's race."

"Well it was a tough day for us," said Don Panoz, founder, Panoz Motor Sports, "but I was delighted to see the Porsche take the victory because they're a great contributor in sports car racing. We look forward to racing against them soon."

The next race for the Visteon Panoz Racing Team, the Sprint PCS Grand Prix of Minnesota, will take place on the streets of Minneapolis on June 27 and 28.