Olivier Beretta and David Saelens set a new record for the Panoz marque in the American Le Mans Series by recording their fifth consecutive podium finish at Miami's Grand Prix Americas event.

After starting from position seven on the grid, Saelens made strong progress at the start to charge up to third place before pitting after 53 minutes. The team had originally intended to run longer before pitting, but Saelens had to be treated by track medical officials after suffering heat exhaustion and dehydration as the event started in stifling temperatures.

"I certainly was feeling very bad when I got out the car, and Oli did an outstanding job to complete the race and get through onto the podium again," the Belgian said, "I have to thank the medical staff for their help in getting some fluid back into my system."

Beretta thus completed a marathon double-stint to complete the race, but proved fit enough to ensure that the European crew recorded a fifth podium in a row, toppling the previous record of four set by David Brabham - who won the GTS class in Miami - and Jan Magnussen in 2001.

"David pushed very hard at the start and really did a great job," he said of his team-mate, "Although he paid for it physically, that really set the race up for us. From that point on, I just had to be very careful with the traffic and keep out of trouble for the remainder of the race.

"The car was really strong throughout the entire day and I was quite pleased because we did not get a lot of time to put miles on the car on Friday. For the last ten minutes, it started to rain and it was very difficult to stay out there on slicks and keep the car off the wall, but getting our fifth podium in a row is a real credit for all the guys and I can't wait to get back in the car for Petit Le Mans."

While the #10 Panoz entry enjoyed an outstanding finish, the weekend for the #11 Panoz of Scott Maxwell and Gunnar Jeannette continued to be difficult.

After missing qualifying yesterday because of a practice crash, the car was forced to start from the back of the pack and, although Maxwell made strong progress at the start, any hopes the duo had of claiming fourth in class expired when Jeannette suffered a late race crash while negotiating traffic. Although still mobile, the car lost its rear wing and bodywork and was forced to retire.

"This certainly hasn't turned out the be the weekend I was hoping for," Jeannette admitted, "Scott did an excellent job in his opening stint and we were able to keep out of trouble and dodge a lot of carnage which was going on out there. Unfortunately, however, I lost the rear of the car after I got waved through by a slower car coming into the fountain part of the track. We were looking good for fourth in class which would have been a great result.

"Getting through traffic was certainly extremely tough from the back of the grid," Maxwell confirmed, "I was trying to be careful, but concentrating on not going too slow to try to avoid being caught out by the leaders. The rest of the field was actually pretty co-operative and tried to run a clean race."

 

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