PANOZ-MUGEN LMP900 MADE OUTSTANDING TEST
The first ever shake down of the MBD Sportscars Panoz-Mugen LMP900, took place last week at the Virginia International Raceway and showed the great potential of the new American Le Mans Series entrant.
In very cold temperatures (below zero centigrade) the team completed a satisfactory two day session without major problems. The single car on track covered more than 60 laps at the 3.7 miles road circuit.
The official drivers of MBD Sportscars Team, Canadians Scott Maxwell and John Graham, Belgian Didier de Radigučs, and Venezuelan Milka Duno, drove the front engine car and were impressed by the power of the new Mugen V8, and the handling of the Panoz 07 chassis.
Dr. Don Panoz, president of Panoz Cars and founder of American Le Mans Series, was also present and enjoyed the very encouraging test. Larry Holt, Technical Director of MBD Sportscars Team was absolutely delighted with the two days of testing the Panoz-Mugen: “It was much better than we expected. In the last two months we have worked very hard in our Multimatic factory in Canada and this practice confirms the positive solutions that we have brought to the car. In order to use the Mugen V8, the complete front of the car was redesigned, including the chassis and suspension. We are very proud of the job done by our staff“.
Sporting Manager of MBD Sporscars Team, Vic Elford, confirms the very good approach of the new machine: “The car is looking very good. It is really stable, handled very well in every type of corner and has outstanding braking. The Panoz-Mugen has great potential”.
Four Japanese Mugen engineers followed every lap completed by the car, and chief engineer Satoshi Katsumata had a great smile of satisfaction after the test. Meanwhile, Brian Willis, Director of Engineering of Elan Motorsports Technologies, also remains very happy with the test results: “For a new car like this, it is unusual to have no major problems. We are going in the right direction and the Panoz-Mugen will be a strong competitor in the 900 class”.
Official Multimatic test driver, Canadian Scott Maxwell, did most of the development driving over the two day session and as usual spent most of the time searching for the best set-up of the car. When Belgian Didier de Radigučs took the car, despite the cold conditions of the track he set a very fast time: “I’m impressed with the power of the engine. It’s very progressive. The chassis-engine package is going to be very competitive” said the former motorcycle champion. For Venezuelan female driver Milka Duno, the Virginia test was her first contact with a LMP900 car, and she made a dozen progressive laps. “The car feels very good and its not difficult to drive. At the beginning I was a little nervous because it was my first outing with a 900 car, but in just a couple of laps I really felt comfortable with the Panoz-Mugen. The engine has a lot of power and you can feel the difference between the 675 and the 900”. The fifth driver of the team, Belgian Bruno Lambert, was also present at Virginia but he did not drive the car. Canadian Rick Sutherland will complete the official formation of MBD Sportscars Team for the 50th Sebring 12 Hours Race and next week the Panoz-Mugen will be seen during open practice for the first time.
Contents ©® 2001/2002 Milka
Duno - All Photographs Courtesy of Octavio Estrada