James Weaver comments on "Sparky"

WEAVER: PANOZ Q9 WAS AHEAD OF ITS TIME The technology that Corsa Motorsports and Zytek will employ with the scheduled race debut of the team's hybrid-powered 07S prototype at the 57th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from...

WEAVER: PANOZ Q9 WAS AHEAD OF ITS TIME

The technology that Corsa Motorsports and Zytek will employ with the scheduled race debut of the team's hybrid-powered 07S prototype at the 57th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida is a revolutionary concept. However the Zytek's hybrid powertrain can trace its roots back a decade when the Panoz Q9 hybrid turned its wheels for the first time.

"Sparky", as the hybrid was affectionately called, was a Panoz GTR-1 coupe that used a Zytek electric motor paired with the Roush-Ford V8. The Panoz Q9 barely missed qualifying for the 1998 24 Hours of Le Mans but did finish second in GT1 in the inaugural Petit Le Mans that same year and completed all 1,000 miles.

Former Dyson Racing legend James Weaver was the qualifying driver at Le Mans for Panoz that year.

"It literally may have been 10 years ahead of its time," Weaver said. "It had a fantastic paint scheme, and the battery really did make the car unique. It was the hardest I had ever driven something in qualifying.

"It was very, very different," he added. "The technology in the batteries was cutting-edge at the time. The big problem we had was the drive. It had so much torque and keeping the battery cool was a problem. We ran it on the airfield at Le Mans for the first time just before qualifying. Engaging the electric motor did make a useful gain. We just ran out of time to develop the car.

"The battery took up the whole cockpit of the car on the driver's right," he added. "It was full of battery and huge! I don't know how much weighed. Probably well over 100 kilos."

The American Le Mans Series will open its 11th season with the 57th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida on Saturday, March 21. SPEED will televise the race live from 10 a.m. to noon and 2-11 p.m. ET. American Le Mans Radio and Live Timing & Scoring will be available at americanlemans.com.

-credit: alms

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