USRRC: Champion Porsche and Panoz GTR-1s Seek Michelin's 10th GT1 Victory
20 August 1998(GREENVILLE, SC) --- Michelin is looking for its 10th consecutive victory of the 1998 North American GT1 racing season as Thierry Boutsen looks to capture the USRRC driver's title in the Michelin-equipped STP Champion Porsche 911 GT1 this Sunday at Watkins Glen International. Two Michelin-equipped Visteon Panoz Motorsports GTR-1s will also be seeking victory at the legendary western New York track. Panoz and Porsche are tied for the lead in manufacturer's points with 59 and will be battling for the title in the season-ending USRRC race.
Bob Wollek will co-drive the Champion Porsche in the six-hour contest with Boutsen, who leads Shane Lewis 112-89 in driver's points. The Panoz team will consist of 1998 Sebring winners Andy Wallace and David Brabham in the No 4 Panoz GTR-1. Eric Bernard and Raul Boesel will drive the No. 5 Panoz. Panoz has won seven of nine GT1 races this season.
"Michelin's victories at the 24 hour race at Daytona and the grueling 12 hours of Sebring, have proven the durability and reliable handling of our Pilot radials," said Herb Johnson," Director of Motorsports, Michelin North America. "We look forward to proving ourselves once again in a long distance race and to helping Thierry Boutsen capture the USRRC driver's title."
Consistency has paid off for the Champion team this season. Despite not winning a USRRC race, Boutsen has led the point standings most of the season. Panoz drivers have captured USRRC races at Homestead, Mid-Ohio and Minneapolis. Michelin and Panoz are partnered for the entire 1998 North American GT racing season. They are running all Professional Sports Car races and select USRRC events. Champion is competing in all USRRC and select SPORTS CAR races.
Michelin began the season by claiming the GT1 class victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona with the Rohr Motorsports Porsche 911 GT1. Panoz Motorsports drivers Wallace and Brabham led a Michelin sweep of GT1 at Sebring. Champion Porsche finished in the runner up position, followed by a second Panoz entry. Panoz also has victories in SPORTS CAR-sanctioned races at Las Vegas, Lime Rock Park and Mosport. Champion Porsche won the SPORTS CAR-sanctioned race at Road Atlanta.
Michelin also has momentum gained from its dual victories at Le Mans in June. The Michelin-equipped Porsche GT1-98, piloted by Alan McNish of Britain, Laurent Aiello and Stepane Ortelli of France, claimed the GT1 and overall victory in the world's most prestigious endurance race. The Michelin-fitted Dodge Viper GTS-R driven by American David Donohue, Justin Bell of Britain and Luca Drudi of Italy were the victors in GT2. Michelin supported cars finished second in both GT1 and in GT2.
Michelin, which brought the world the radial tire more than 50 years ago, is the world's largest tire company. It has 22 plants in North America and produces tires for every type of vehicle, from bicycles to the space shuttle.