Motorsport News International

IMSA: Patrick Tambay, Bugatti to enter Watkins Glen

  • (Tom Haapanen)
  • MNI - Motorsport News International


    WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- Two familiar names from the past will team up at Watkins Glen International during the June 23-25 NASCAR/IMSA weekend. Former Formula One and Can-Am star Patrick Tambay will drive the Bugatti EB 110 in its American debut in the Glen Continental.

    The Monaco Racing Team will mark the return of the Bugatti name after an absence of nearly 60 years from competition in the United States. The team is managed by owner Gildo Pallanca-Pastor -- who will co-drive with Tambay at the Glen -- and technical director Daniel Pernoud, who was formerly of the Ligier Formula 1 team. The car will compete in the Exxon GTS-1 class, its first test in what the team hopes will be a run for the 1996 GTS-1 title.

    Tambay won in both his first and most recent races at Watkins Glen. In 1977, the Glen marked his first race in the SCCA Can-Am series. Filling in for the injured Brian Redman, Tambay drove the Carl Haas-owned Lola T-333CS to victory from the pole, setting a track record fastest race lap of 114.06 mph in the process. Tambay last raced at the Glen in 1980, driving a Haas Lola T-530 to victory, lapping the field in the process.

    Tambay has three Formula One appearances in the United States Grand Prix at Watkins Glen. He practiced the Theodore Ensign in 1977, but blew an engine and failed to qualify. He came back with a Team McLaren M-26 the following year, qualified 18th and finished sixth, his fifth points-paying finish of the year. He qualified 22nd for McLaren in 1979, retiring after 19 laps with a blown engine.

    Interrupting his Formula 1 career with a championship return to the Can-Am in 1980, Tambay, returned to the international Grand Prix tour for six successful seasons. He spent two successful seasons with Ferrari, winning the 1982 German Grand Prix and 1983 Italian Grand Prix. He competed in 114 Grands Prix, winning five pole positions, nine front row starts, and two fastest race laps.

    In recent years, the 45-year-old Tambay has kept active in various forms of motorsports. He competed in the Paris-Dakar rally six times, including a third place finish in 1989; drove for Jaguar in the 1989 24 Hours of LeMans, finishing fourth; plus numerous snowmobile and ice races.

    The Bugatti EB 100 Sport Competizione is one of the world's premier productions cars. Powered by a 3.5-litre V-12 engine, it can go from zero to 62 mph in 3.2 seconds, and has a top speed of 354 kilometers per hour. The Monaco Racing Team prepared for its assault on IMSA by shattering the world speed on ice, with a run of 184 mph.

    "If you look at their car on paper, they should blow our doors off," said current GTS-1 points leader and defending Glen Continental winner Irv Hoerr. "But I doubt if they'll come right in and dominate the series. Our Oldsmobile will go around the corners faster, they'll be faster on the straights, and from what I've seen in the endurance races, the GTS cars seem to come out on top. But that car looks really good on paper. We just have to concentrate on our primary concern, to win the IMSA Manufacturer's championship for Oldsmobile."

    Hoerr and Darin Brassfield are top GTS-1 contenders in a pair of Oldsmobile Cutlass Supremes, with Johnny O'Connell another leading threat in a Nissan 300ZX.

    The Exxon GTS-1 class will compete with the GTS-2 cars and Exxon World Sports Cars in the Glen Continental, a three-hour race on the Glen's 3.4-mile Grand Prix Course which takes the green flag at 2 p.m. on Saturday, June 24. For ticket and camping information, call (607) 535-2481. J.J. O'Malley, Watkins Glen International

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