American chassis manufacturer Panoz G-Force clinched its third Indianapolis 500 victory, with Gil de Ferran taking the win for the Penske team - which also ran a rival Dallara chassis for double-winner Helio Castroneves.

Examples of the Panoz G-Force chassis filled five of the top eight positions at the end of 200 laps, with de Ferran taking win aboard his Toyota-powered car over team-mate Castroneves, who elected to drive the Dallara after both drivers tested the two cars extensively in the run up to the event.

de Ferran, who was returning to racing for the first since injuring his back in an accident at Phoenix last month, took the lead with a pass on his team-mate on lap 169, and held on for victory despite a couple of late-race yellow flag periods.

"I'll tell you, it's hard to describe in words what I'm feeling right now," the Brazilian said from Victory Lane, "I've just unbelievable for me. You always dream of winning a race like this. Words escape me right now - but I love the milk!"

Tomas Scheckter took fourth place, Tora Takagi fifth, Alex Barron sixth and Greg Ray eighth to complete the list of top ten finishes for Panoz G-Force. The marque led more than half the race today with Scheckter leading 63 laps, Ganassi team-mate Scott Dixon 15, Takagi two and de Ferran 31, including the final 30.

"We are really thrilled to win our third Indy 500 today, it is a great result for everybody at the factory," Don Panoz said, "The fact that the car was made in Georgia is a great result for our state. With the Penske team running one of our chassis and one of the opposition, the way the result worked out was just brilliant. I am sure everybody at the factory involved in making this win a reality will be very proud. Simon Marshall and the design team has done a brilliant job."

de Ferran's victory marks the third time that Panoz G-Force has won the first Indy 500 after the introduction of new chassis regulations - having previously achieved the feat in 1997 with Arie Luyendyk and 2000 with Juan Montoya.

It is also the second victory of the year in the IRL IndyCar Championship after Scott Dixon claimed victory at the opening round at Homestead.

"We always believed we had a very strong car for the race conditions," director of sales John Biddlecombe said, "Qualifying didn't go as planned, but having five of the top eight cars at the finish was very pleasing. There is obviously a great deal of satisfaction for Gil and the Penske team, especially since they switched to our chassis for this weekend.

"From Don Panoz right down to everybody at the factory in Braselton, Georgia - this is a fantastic result. This is America's greatest race, and for a car built here in the USA to win this race is fantastic. The car was very fast in qualifying last year, but we were unlucky in the race, this year it was the other way round.

"Our aim now is to continue this performance and set our sights on the championship. We have now won two of the four races and there are a couple of tracks coming up which will really suit our car. We have been in position to win every race in 2003 which has covered every track configuration - short ovals, medium ovals and super speedways.

"Congratulations to all our teams - today is a great reward for all their hard work."