Gunnar Jeannette paid tribute to Don Panoz after he, Cooper MacNeil and Daniel Serra concluded the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season with victory at Road Atlanta.
The ten-hour Motul Petit Le Mans race was the first since the passing of Panoz at the age of eighty-three last month, and Jeannette continues to be grateful to the legendary motorsport entrepreneur after being handed the opportunity to drive a LMP1 car by him when he was just nineteen.
Now seventeen years later, as part of the #63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari line-up, he was taking victory at Petit Le Mans and paying tribute to the man who provided him with an opportunity to race around the globe in sports car racing.
“This was a huge win,” stated Jeannette on ScuderiaCorsa.com. “When I was 19 years old, Don Panoz hired me to drive his LMP1 car, and what he created with Petit Le Mans and what it’s grown in to is fantastic.
“To not have him here, I think we’re all missing a significant figure of the American sportscar scene, and every person here owes him a debt of gratitude. I’m super happy to be a part of it, and get a win here at Petit Le Mans.”
Co-driver MacNeil was delighted to end the year on a high and with a mistake-free performance from all three drivers, and it was great to leave Road Atlanta with the winner’s trophies.
“I couldn’t think of a better way to finish off the WeatherTech championship in a WeatherTech car,” stated MacNeil. “Hats off to Daniel and Gunnar and all the Scuderia Corsa guys for not putting a wheel off, no mistakes, no issues in pitlane, and that’s what it takes to win a race in this competitive championship.
“It was about executing and hitting our marks, and Daniel drove his butt off, but he has the trophy to show for it.”
Brazilian racer Serra joined Jeannette and MacNeil for the finale after racing in the three previous Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup events in the Squadra Corse Garage Italia Ferrari outfit, but he was delighted to aid his new team in claiming victory.
“I’m feeling awesome,” stated Serra. “The team did a perfect job, no mistakes, perfect pit stops, and very consistent on the track.
“These are the keys to win the race, so I’m very happy.”