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GT2 Class Soars in Final Round of 2006 Le Mans Series
Jarama, Spain is about 22 miles from Madrid and was the site of the final round of the 2006 Le Mans Series. The last race of the European season held more at stake than a win. It determined the second place in the Championship for the competitive GT2 class, along with an automatic entry for the 2007 Le Mans 24 hours.
Team LNT was familiar with the circuit, having tested there previously. On Friday and Saturday the team had to find the best balance for the car over the 622 mile distance ahead.
Le Mans GT2 Winning Car
Team LNT's Le Mans Reward
“We know the circuit favors Porches and we know how fast Ferraris are too, so we’re spending a lot of time finding the best solution for the race,” said Rob Bell, Number 81. “The surface here is very abrasive so we are getting a big difference in pace from the start of a session to the end, far more than at some other circuits. We’re doing a lot of tire work, but we’re a little bit off the ultimate pace.”
In the Number 82 car Marc Hynes agreed. “The circuit does affect the rubber here more than anywhere else,” he said. “I was here in 1997 with Formula Renault so the circuit is familiar. The difference between the big prototypes and our GT2 cars is really quite large here too. It’s a bit like running Formula Fords in the same race as Formula 3000s.”
At the start of the race Rob Bell and Richard Dean moved up after a couple of laps, Bell to 5th in class with Dean at 8th.
President of Panoz, Don Panoz visits Team LNT at Leeds Bradford Airport
Bell moved up to 4th after an hour then progressed to 3rd. Bell was able to play another strong hand. The fuel economy of the Panoz over the Porches and Ferraris meant that Number 81 would lead the class before having to pit himself a lap or two later.
Other LNT Team racers took turns at the wheel and into the final stint Warren Huges stayed aboard the Number 81 car and Richard Dean took Number 82.
When it was over, Team LNT was third, but there were rumblings in the pits. GPC’s star driver Fabrizio de Simone was in the car for 6 hours. The rules state a driver can only stay in a vehicle for a maximum of 4 hours.
The Number 97 Ferrari was disqualified and Team LNT’s Number 81 Panoz was given its second consecutive race win. Car Number 82 moved up to 4th place. “I’m relieved more than anything,” said Richard Dean, as he received the news 3 hours after the race ended. “What a year 2006 has been for Team LNT.”
Team LNT had chosen a tough path by going head to head with the European GT elite, Porsche and Ferrari. However, the pair of Team LNT cars had scored a pair of wins and a further pair of appearances on the podium by the end of the fifth and final round of the Le Mans Series. The orange cars from Braselton, Georgia have a great track record. The pair has been on the podium at all but one of the European races they have entered.
There was also the class victory at Le Mans, the first team ever to humble Porsche in the GT2 class. Team LNT is supported by K&N Filters (Europe) Ltd., and uses
K&N Air Filters
in both Panoz race cars. The team is now looking forward to Le Mans 2007.
Follow Team LNT's progress throughout the racing season at the
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