Pirelli scores victories on three continents

Aston Martin and Panoz Look to Continue Sebring Success at Lone Star Grand Prix HOUSTON, Texas, May 9, 2006 Pirellis celebration of its 99 years of motorsports got off to a grand start this season as Pirelli-shod cars scored victories on both sides of the Atlantic in three different series. First, in the 54th running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in March, the #009 Aston Martin Racing DBR9 of Pedro Lamy (Portugal) and David Brabham (Australia/UK) in the #50 Multimatic Motorsports Panoz Esperante set qualifying records in GT1 and GT2 respectively. Lamy and his AMR teammates went on to set the fastest lap of the race and put both cars on the podium, while Brabham, Torontos Scott Maxwell and Champ Car Champion Sebastien Bourdais of Le Mans stood atop the podium with a victory in GT2. Then in April in Istanbul, at their circuit across the Bosphorus in Asia, Pirelli-shod cars dominated the podium at the first Le Mans Series race of the season with the GPC Corse Ferrari 430 GTC, Team Autorlando Porsche 911 GT3 RSR and Team LNT Panoz Esperante finishing 1-2-3, all on Pirelli P Zero race tyres. And finally, this past weekend at Silverstone in England, Pirelli-shod teams dominated the opening round of the FIA GT Championship with the Vitaphone Maserati MC12 of Bertolini-Bartels and the Scuderia Italia Aston Martin of Babini-Gollin placing first and third respectively in GT1. For the second straight race, the GT2 podium was exclusively Pirelli as the AF Corse Ferrari F430 GTCs of Melo-Bobbi and Aguas-Salo finished first and third while the Ebimotors Porsche 911 GT3-RSR of Collard-Riccitelli placed second. Now Houston and the Lone Star State beckon in the second round of the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) which is set for Friday, May 12, at 8 p.m. (CDT), the first of five straight ALMS races on CBS Sports. The nine-turn, 1.7-mile temporary street circuit at Houstons Reliant Park is the first street race in the series since Miami in 2003 and should provide plenty of excitement in all four classes. Aston Martin Racing will return with two of its Pirelli-shod DBR9s for Tomas Enge (Czech Republic) and Darren Turner (UK) in the #007 and for Pedro Lamy and Stephane Sarrazin (France) in the #009 to challenge the factory Corvettes. We did a lot of testing before Sebring and it showed as AMR set a qualifying record and the fastest lap, commented Peter Tyson, VP of Communications for Pirelli tyre North America. But Houston will be quite an unknown as its a new and temporary circuit, limited testing and a low grip concrete surface; its going to be a challenge for everyone. The Multimatic Panoz Esperante needed only one race to equal the number of victories earned in 2005 (a spectacular joust between Robin Liddell and the AJR Porsche at Road Atlanta) and, because of the Sebring result, the team is hoping to uncork a few more champagne bottles during this season. Veterans Brabham and Maxwell will again pilot the #50 Panoz Esperante at Houston with Gunnar Top Gun Jeannette and Tom Milner serving as the young aggressors in the #51 Panoz. With an off season spent working on horsepower and suspension upgrades and development tyre testing, the Pirelli-shod Panoz Esperante appears ready to take on all comers in GT2&#8230and come they will as the competition is even stronger than last year. The Porsches are fewer but the quality of the competition is as strong as ever. And the Risi Ferrari finally appears to have the power to win. Add in the developing BMW and the coming Lexus and the GT2 season should prove exciting, race after race. The Lone Star Grand Prix will be broadcast tape delayed at 1 p.m. (EDT) on Sunday, May 13, on CBS Sports. The ALMS Radio Web will have live coverage online at www.americanlemans.com. In addition, all ALMS races will again be televised live in Europe in a television arrangement between the series and MotorsTV, a European television channel dedicated to the world of motorsports. More information about Pirelli's motorsport activities can be found at www.Pirellicompetizioni.com