Bourdais and Junqueira Join Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz for Sebring

TORONTO, ON (February 28th, 2006) – Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz has secured leading Champ Car World Series and Newman-Haas Racing aces Sebastien Bourdais and Bruno Junqueira to complete its star-studded line-up for the opening round of the 2006 American Le Mans Series – the 54th Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

The two open-wheel stars will drive the Panoz Esperante GTLM – Bourdais teaming up with David Brabham and Scott Maxwell and Junqueira partnering Gunnar Jeannette and Tom Milner.

Bourdais has won the Champ Car World Series for the past two years in succession while Junqueira is a three-time runner up and a former pole winner for the Indianapolis 500.

Both drivers are former championship winners in the FIA Formula 3000 series in Europe.

The Newman-Haas Racing (NHR) drivers are more than familiar with the Multimatic organization and its technical expertise. Multimatic has partnered with NHR in the development of the DSSV dampers which helped the Chicago-based team win three out of the past four Champ Car titles.

In addition, Multimatic also provides Newman-Haas with four-post-rig services and vehicle dynamics expertise.

For Bourdais, the Sebring event will actually be his second race with Multimatic in 2006 after teaming up with his father, Patrick, aboard a Ford Racing Technology Mustang FR500C in the Grand Am Cup event at Daytona in January.

The Frenchman is no stranger to endurance racing. Born and bred in the famous French city of Le Mans, Bourdais has contested his home town’s fabled 24 Hours on five occasions, won the 2002 Spa 24 Hours and will be competing in his third Twelve Hours of Sebring when he climbs aboard the Panoz from March 15-18.

“I am really looking forward to doing Sebring in the Panoz because it is always important to get as much seat time you can,” Bourdais said.

“Our testing is very restricted in Champ Cars so it is handy to get additional miles at this time of year. The race is going to be very interesting as well because the competition in GT2 is looking very strong – I am really looking forward to the battle.

“It is also great to do the race with Multimatic. We know each other well from what they do for NHR in Champ Cars and obviously from Mustang race I did with Dad in January.

“The Panoz campaign also looks to be in very good shape since Multimatic took over the entire program this year as well.”

For Junqueira, the Sebring event will be his first race since suffering back injuries in a crash at last year’s Indianapolis 500.

“The Sebring event will have a lot of ‘firsts’ for me – my first race with a roof over my head, my first ever sportscar race and my first race since the Indy 500 last year,” Junqueira said.

“It will be great for me to shake off the cobwebs and do some race miles before the first Champ Car race at Long Beach.

“It is certainly going to be different but my father raced with a roof over his head in touring cars for about 25 years in Brazil so it should be great experience – a lot of fun.

“I’ve always had great relationship with all the guys at Multimatic through Newman Haas so it is great to get to drive for them at Sebring.”

Pre-season preparations for Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz continued at Road Atlanta this week with Brabham, Maxwell, Jeannette and Milner on hand to test the #50 and #51 Panoz Esperante GTLMs.

“Having Sebastien and Bruno join the team for Sebring completes a perfect driver combination for us,” said Multimatic Vice President and Motorsports Technical Director, Larry Holt.

“Our company has worked closely with Newman-Haas to help them achieve success in the Champ Car World Series. A lot of the development we did together on the DSSV technology has formed the basis for the dampers we are now using on the Panoz and in other series such Formula One, the Le Mans Series in Europe, Super GT in Japan and Formula 3 championships throughout the world.

“Multimatic has helped Sebastien and Bruno win a lot of races in the Champ Car Series, hopefully they can now help us win at Sebring with the Panoz.

“Everybody on the team is really looking forward to Sebring. The cars have run brilliantly so far and we have our sights set on kicking off our championship assault with a win.

“The challenge in the GT2 class is going to be tough with Porsche, Ferrari, BMW and Lexus but we are ready for the fight.”

Multimatic is a privately held Canadian corporation supplying components, systems and services to the global automotive industry. The company is headquartered in Markham, Ontario, Canada, and has operating divisions in North America and Europe with partners in Asia, South America and Australia. 

Multimatic specializes in the manufacture of stampings, welded assemblies, mechanisms, and suspension components, as well as the design and development of automotive body and chassis systems. Multimatic uses advanced technologies to achieve outstanding product quality, delivery and functional performance.

The Panoz Esperante is a high performance handcrafted limited production sports car built in Braselton, Georgia by Panoz Auto Development Company (PADC). 

The racing version of the car, known as the GTLM, has been developed for FIA/ACO GT2 competition by Elan Motorsports Technologies with chassis engineering and manufacturing support from Multimatic.