Panoz Factory Team Returns to American Le Mans Series; Will Race New Esperante GT-LM at Mid-Ohio
BRASELTON, GA. - Panoz Motor Sports, one of the most successful entrants in the history of the American Le Mans Series, will return to the series and race a new Panoz Esperante GT-LM in the June 25-27 event at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
The full factory entry in the GT class of the ALMS will be driven by Gunnar Jeannette of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and David Saelens of Belgium as Panoz Motor Sports returns to action for the first time since the end of the 2002 season.
The GT-LM is based on the Panoz Esperante road car built by Panoz Auto Development and is powered by a 5.0 litre modular V-8 engine from Elan Power Products. It will race on Pirelli Tires. The car has been under development and testing for several months in anticipation of its competitive debut.
"We're back," said Don Panoz, owner of Panoz Motor Sports. "We wanted to build and race a car that is more in line with the cars that we sell for the road, so we took some time away to make that happen. We're looking forward to racing at Mid-Ohio."
Panoz indicated that the team's schedule of races for the remainder of the 2004 season will be determined following the Mid-Ohio race. "We feel that the car will not only be ready to race, it will also be very competitive," he said. "But before we commit to running the rest of the season, we want to see her in real racing action."
The Panoz factory team was a mainstay of professional sports car racing from 1997 through 2002, enjoying popularity not only in North America but also abroad in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the European Le Mans Series and the FIA GT Series. The Panoz team was voted Best Team at Le Mans in 1999 and seven different sports car racing championships have been won by Panoz entries.
The team fielded Prototype entries in the American Le Mans Series from the formation of the series in 1999 through 2002, scoring eight overall race wins and five poles during that span, as well as the 1999 Prototype team and manufacturer's championships, with the Panoz LMP01 Prototype.
Jeannette, 21, is no stranger to racing Panoz cars, having driven for Panoz Motor Sports in 2002 and for the privateer JML Team Panoz in 2003. His best career ALMS finish in 18 starts has been a second in the LMP 900 class at Mosport International Raceway in 2003.
Saelens, 28, is a former Formula One test driver and the 1998 French Formula 3 champion. He spent the 2003 season driving for JML Team Panoz and scored a best finish of second overall in the season-ending Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.
The GT-LM was built by Elan Motorsports Technologies (EMT), a multi-faceted motorsports company founded by Don Panoz and located in Braselton, Ga. Panoz G-Force, an EMT subsidiary, also designed and built the winning chassis for the 2003 Indianapolis 500 and 2003 Indy Racing League. The impressive EMT portfolio also includes Van Diemen International, the world's largest volume manufacturer of single-seater formula and sports racing cars. EMT subsidiaries are currently building the next-generation car for the Star Mazda Series and the new STRANA Super Trucks.
American Le Mans at Mid-Ohio will be Round Two of the 2004 season for the ALMS and will include a two-hour, 45-minute timed event on Sunday, June 27. The race will be televised live by CBS Sports in North America and MotorsTV in Europe and will be broadcast live by the American Le Mans Series Radio Web online at www.americanlemans.com.
Ticket information for the Mid-Ohio event is available online at www.midohio.com or by calling 1-800-MID-OHIO.