Despite the departure of Hideki Mutoh and the Super Aguri sponsorship packages, it would appear to be a bit premature to write the Panther Racing eulogy. The team has already released two announcements today, with perhaps more to come very soon.
First, Henri Durand has been hired as Technical Director – a position that hasn’t been filled since Andy Brown left in 2006 to go help Dan Wheldon and TCGR win a bunch of races. Durand comes with LOTS of Formula One experience, which should come in handy considering that last season the two Panther drivers only once finished higher than 9th on a road or street course.
Nobody is more excited about Durand’s arrival than veteran driver Vitor Meira, who joined Durand for the first time during a test recently in Alabama. The test was short, and the track unfamiliar, but Panther’s Brazilian came away impressed.Meanwhile, in a separate announcement the folks at Panther sounded confident they will remain a two-car team in the ICS and will also be able to continue their Indy Pro entry in 2008.
“I don’t know how else to say it – but he’s awesome,” Meira admitted. “He knows these cars and anticipates how they’ll react. For every change we make, Henri is thinking about how that affects every other part of the car – and it’s going to make a difference.”
Panther officials are working hard to solidify the team as a two-car IndyCar Series operation and continue to run its Indy Pro Series car...How close? Well, the Panther Racing web site says to look for new web site on November 1st.
With Delphi set to return in 2008, Panther already has a solid foundation entering the season. Now, it’s a matter of crossing the “Ts” and dotting the “Is” to complete it’s full program. What has been a tremendous help in putting together a budget for 2008 is the IndyCar Series new TEAM distribution plan, which Barnes praised when it was announced last month.
“We’re really close,” Barnes said. “I can’t wait to tell our fans what we have in store for next season.”
UPDATE: No major announcements, but the new site is SWEET! I don’t mean just the look, but the content as well. There’s a whole lotta stuff there. Be sure to check out the Q&A section which is chock full of answers to questions like:
- So Hideki is at AGR, will Kosuke be back?
- Is John Andretti on the radar for a third car at Indy?
- Is Tomas Scheckter on your radar for 2008 if he leaves Vision?
- Is Jeff Simmons on Panther Racing's Xmas Card list these days?
- Isn't this Q&A deal just a rip off of Curt Cavin's blog on the Indy Star's site?