Panoz Esperante debut leads to more races

New Panoz Esperante GT-LM Runs Strongly in American Le Mans Series Debut; Team Plans More Races Braselton, GA - The new Panoz Esperante GT-LM accomplished a strong and impressive debut race in the American Le Mans Series this past weekend and...

New Panoz Esperante GT-LM Runs Strongly in American Le Mans Series Debut; Team Plans More Races

Braselton, GA - The new Panoz Esperante GT-LM accomplished a strong and impressive debut race in the American Le Mans Series this past weekend and will now see more action in the professional sports car racing series.

After qualifying second, setting the fastest race lap and racing up to as high as second place in the GT class in Sunday's ALMS race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, the Panoz Motor Sports-fielded car was eliminated from contention for victory due to damage suffered in an on-track collision with another car. However, the car's builder and the race team were more than satisfied with the machine's performance and plan to race it in at least the next four events on the ALMS schedule.

The car will next be in action in the New England Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn., July 2-5, co-driven by American racers Gunnar Jeannette of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., and Kelly Collins of Corona del Mar, Calif. David Saelens of Belgium drove with Jeannette in the debut race.

"It felt really good to race hard and contend for the win again," said Andy Waldrep, team manager for Panoz Motor Sports. "From all the testing and development we have done, we knew the car would run strongly. Gunnar and David are good drivers and they performed very well in the car. It's too bad that we didn't get the result that we wanted because of the accident, but we know that car has the potential to challenge the Porsches and Ferraris and to win in the American Le Mans Series and that's what we're here to do.

"It was also great to receive the welcome that we did from the fans at Mid-Ohio," Waldrep said. "They were glad to see us back and they loved the car. Sports car racing fans like to see new cars and new technology and we were happy to give something back to them."

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. The Mid-Ohio event marked the return of the Don Panoz-owned team to ALMS competition.

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. The racing version was built and developed by Elan Motorsport Technologies (EMT), a Panoz-related diversified motorsports company located in Braselton, Ga.

"We were more than pleased with the way the car performed under racing conditions at Mid-Ohio," said David Bowes, Chief Executive Officer of EMT. "The GT-LM project is intended to be a customer car program for EMT and Panoz, and we had several potential customers paying very close attention at Mid-Ohio. Hopefully the fans will soon be seeing more Esperantes mixing it up on the track with the Porsches and Ferraris in the GT class."

The New England Grand Prix will be Round Three of the 2004 season for the ALMS and marks the first-ever race for the ALMS at the historic Lime Rock Park racing facility. The feature race will be a two-hour, 45-minute timed event on Monday, July 5, starting at 3 p.m. (Eastern). Practice and qualifying will be held on Saturday, July 3, along with an ALMS Fan Forum. All ALMS drivers will participate in an autograph session at 11:30 a.m. on race day.

The race will be televised live by SPEED Channel 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 Lime Rock event is available online at www.americanlemans.com or by calling 1-800-RACE-LRP.

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Series ALMS
Drivers David Saelens , Kelly Collins , Don Panoz