The "Batmobile" rides again - JML Team Panoz to run Coupe at Le Mans 1000km
JML Team Panoz will go "back to the future" at the forthcoming Le Mans 1000km on November 9 by entering one of the original Panoz GTR1 roadsters which first competed in the 24 hour in 1997.
The "Batmobile" was an enormous crowd favorite and formed the basic platform for the current Panoz LMP-01 which has just recorded its fifth consecutive podium finish in the 2003 American Le Mans Series.
The car previously raced in 1997 and 1998 before being converted to LMP spec for the 1999 season.
Panoz founder Don Panoz has enlisted the JML squad to bring the car back for one final run.
"This car had an enormous crowd support and we thought we would bring the old girl out for one more time," Panoz said.
"It is quite amazing to see the number of top sportscars that have entered the sport over the past seven years that have come and gone.
"Throughout that time, the Panoz has always been there and always putting on a show for the fans.
"We are still formulating our plans for 2004 and beyond, but we thought it would be a nice way to give something back to the fans and run the car once more."
The car will be driven at the event by current JML Team Panoz pilots Olivier Beretta and David Saelens.
The pair have been a revelation since teaming up at Trois Rivieres in the American Le Mans Series this year. The Euro duo have recorded five consecutive podium finishes - a record for the Panoz marque.
The team will enter chassis #03 and will feature the same bodywork which has been sitting in storage since the end of the 1998 season, requiring only minor changes to fit the current regulations.
Originally run as the Panoz GTR-1 in the GT1 class, the car will now be upgraded and homologated under the current regulations as a Panoz GTP in the GTP class - the same division under which Bentley finished 1-2 in this year's 24 hour classic.
"We certainly have no shortage of parts for this car and it will bring back a lot of happy memories for guys who worked on the car from the beginning," Team Manager, Andy Waldrep said.
"The Panoz brand has a loyal group of supporters in France who stand opposite our pits and cheer every time the car drives past.
"It is going be to fantastic to give them something back. When you are at Le Mans, it is cold, 4am in the morning and you are incredibly tired - seeing a bunch of fans wave flags and go crazy every time you complete another lap really picks you up."