Multimatic Panoz Houston preview

Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz is ready to hit the streets in Reliant Park, Houston next week for the second ever street course event for the Panoz Esperante GTLM.

Fresh from victory in the GT2 class at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the Multimatic squad is out to capitalize on the championship lead held by David Brabham and Scott Maxwell aboard the #50 Esperante.

The race will be only the second street course event tackled by the Esperante. The Braselton, GA-built car raced for the first time in ALMS GT2 spec at Road Atlanta in 2003 and made its street course debut in Miami later that year.

Brabham and Maxwell will again be joined by American young-guns Gunnar Jeannette and Tom Milner who unfortunately dropped out of the opening round of the 2006 championship at Sebring due to a driveline failure.

The two young stars are headed to Houston early next for the ALMS Lone Star Grand Prix – taking part in a media conference on May 9 at the Reliant Arena media center. Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz will also take part in the Klein Tools Pit Crew Challenge immediately after the conference.

The Reliant Park 1.7-mile temporary street track surrounds Reliant Stadium – home of the Houston Texans NFL team and the Reliant Astrodome.

Built in 1974, the Astrodome was the first domed structure of its size created without a pillar supporting it in the center.

"Houston is a whole new ball game for everybody and the entire field is on equal ground because nobody has any previous data to go by in establishing a set-up," Multimatic Vice President and Motorsports Technical Director, Larry Holt said.

"Our sponsor Pirelli has actually been out to Houston to check out the track surface and make a recommendation as to what tires to run and we will be starting the weekend with a set-up developed from our four-post test rig in Toronto.

"We pretty much have to race what we have straight off the trailer. It’s a two-day event you don't have a lot of time to fine tune the car.

"We had a great battle at Sebring, but the competition in GT2 keeps getting tougher and tougher. The Italians must be taking our 'flamed-out hot rods' pretty seriously because Risi has brought in the top guns from Europe with Jaime Melo and Mika Salo driving the Ferrari 430.

"The Porsche guys will be out for revenge as well and Patrick Long is back in the Peterson car – we know we will have a big fight on hands when we get to Texas."

The 2 hour, 45 minute Lone Star Grand Prix will be staged from 8pm on Friday, May 12 and will be broadcast on CBS the following day from 1.00pm to 2.00pm

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