Stratford-upon-Avon's GT racing star Patrick Pearce will be part of American sportscar manufacturer Panoz's exciting new European motorsport assault in 2006.

Pearce has raced a TVR T400-R for Team LNT in European sportscar championships this year, taking a series of podium finishes and impressing at every turn. Now the ambitious LNT squad have secured a new partnership deal with Panoz, and will swap the TVR for the dramatic Panoz Esperante GTLM that made its debut in the American Le Mans Series this season. Pearce is expected to take a key role in the driver line-up that will spearhead Panoz's first major European programme in several years. He will race an LNT Esperante in the Le Mans Endurance Series, the FIA GT Championship, the Sebring 12 Hour race in Florida, and hopefully also the Le Mans 24 Hours if LNT is granted an entry for the world-famous event.

The Panoz company was little known outside America when its first GT car hit the racetracks in 1997, but its reputation soon rocketed as the spectacular front-engined cars took on and often beat the likes of Porsche, Mercedes, McLaren, Lotus, BMW and Audi in sportscar races all around the world. Pearce is confident that the latest Panoz design will prove just as successful.

"I've just seen the first Panoz in the LNT workshop, and it's an excellent car," he said. "The quality of the chassis is fantastic, and it's at a much more advanced stage of development that the TVRs we have been racing this year.

"Some manufacturers don't give all the latest parts to all of their teams, so you never know how good your equipment really is, but one of the best things about Panoz is that they make sure all their teams are equal. I think it should be a great season, and I'm looking forward to being a part of it."

The Panoz adventure could start a little early for Pearce and LNT, as the team hopes to run at least one Esperante in the final round of this year's LMES, which will be held at the superb new Istanbul Formula One venue in Turkey in mid-November.