USRRC: Visteon Panoz Racing Team Clinches Championship
4 September 1998
Although the USRRC announced at the Watkins Glen race that the October event at Laguna Seca would be its final race of the season, in fact that is not now the case. On September 2, 1998, USRRC changed its position and announced that its parent organization, SCCA, would sanction the season finale FIA GT at Laguna Seca, making Watkins Glen the final USRRC race of 1998. Professional Sports Car Racing (SPORTS CAR) will sanction the Laguna Seca seson-ender on Saturday, October 24. Consequently, this belated decision by the USRRC ensures the Visteon Panoz Racing Team the 1998 USRRC GT1 team championship by four points.
"In only 18 months of racing, I am pleased we've been able to win the 1998 team championship in the face of tough competition from Porsche, " says Don Panoz, founder, Panoz Motor Sports. "I would like to congratulate Porsche for winning the 1998 USRRC GT1 Driver and Manufacturer titles. We look forward to competing against them, and other teams and manufacturers, in the 1999 American Le Mans Series."
Tony Dowe, managing director of Panoz Motor Sports, is happy with the Visteon Panoz Racing Team's accomplishments. "I'm obviously very pleased for the team," he says. "Anytime one wins the team championship it does reflect well on the way the team has performed. We're very pleased to see Porsche as competitive as they are, and it's been a very good, honest, friendly rivalry with them. Obviously we concentrated on the Professional Sports Car Racing Championship (SPORTS CAR), and we're involved with the USRRC to be supportive of sports car racing in general, so any achievement such as this is a bonus and hopefully in the future everybody will be racing for the same championship."
The Visteon Panoz Racing Team began the USRRC season with a tough drive at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, where the cars finished 32nd and 39th. Victories followed at the next three USRRC races -- the Homestead Sports Car Extravaganza, the U.S. Road Racing Classic at Mid-Ohio, and the Sprint PCS Grand Prix of Minnesota, the team concluded the season at Watkins Glen with a second-place finish.
"I want to congratulate the entire Visteon/Panoz team -- they've done an outstanding job this year," says Charlie Szuluk, president, Visteon Automotive Systems. "Visteon's customers also come out on top with these wins --- through our racing efforts we are proving out technology under the toughest conditions possible which will help us as we move that technology to production vehicles. Visteon is delighted to be part of this very exciting effort -- and we look forward to the remainder of the season."
The next race for the Visteon Panoz Racing Team is the NAPA Auto Parts Sebring Classic Presented by Royal Purple Synthetic Motor Oil, at Sebring International Raceway, September 16-19, 1998.