Panoz to unveil GT Class challenger. Since 2001, the Panoz Esperante has been competing with the world's finest marques for showroom sales, but this year this unique American car is set take the battle to the racetrack. The Panoz Esperante...
Panoz to unveil GT Class challenger.
Since 2001, the Panoz Esperante has been competing with the world's finest marques for showroom sales, but this year this unique American car is set take the battle to the racetrack.
The Panoz Esperante GT-LM will be unveiled at the 51st annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and will make its on-track debut in the American Le Mans Series after the Le Mans 24 Hour in June.
The American machine will compete in what is considered to be the most competitive class of Le Mans style endurance racing. The GT class entry list for the forthcoming Sebring event includes some of the world's finest marques including Porsche, Ferrari and BMW.
The Esperante GT-LM car has been developed by Panoz Auto Developments in conjunction with Elan Motorsports Technologies and will be raced by the newly-formed Hyper Sport LLC team. The car will be unveiled for the media and race fans on Thursday, March 13 during the lead-up to the Sebring race.
The racecar is based on the road going Panoz Esperante and powered by a 5.0 liter Robert Yates-built Ford engine.
"The Panoz brand has built its heritage by competing in world class sports car racing, but the launch of the GT car is a key moment in our history because the car is closely linked to the car we sell for the road," Panoz founder, Don Panoz said.
"Our plan is to continue to design and construct purpose-built racecars for the faster classes, but our GT car will become a vital part of our marketing sales program for the road car.
"We are very excited about this program and are committed to fully supporting the development process with our first GT team partner, Hyper Sport."
Pirelli Tire has joined as a technical development partner on the Esperante GT-LM project and will provide engineering resources during all phases of the testing, development and support at the ALMS races themselves.
"We see an opportunity here to partner with a manufacturer with great potential." states Peter Tyson, Vice President of Marketing Communications for Pirelli North America.
"We're confident in the Elan Motorsports Technologies organization and the team to provide all the necessary tools for success."
The Hyper Sport team has been put together by Rick Skelton and Brad Nyberg - both former pupils of the Road Atlanta-based Panoz Racing School.
"We've examined various opportunities to enter the American Le Mans Series and chose to take an aggressive, competitive marketing move and join Panoz in pushing the Esperante GT-LM project to the front," Skelton said.
"This unique car will set our team and our sponsors apart, creating excitement other cars can't match."
Both Skelton and Nyberg progressed from the racing school to become top finishers in the highly competitive Panoz GT and Pro Series over the past two years.
Lead driver for the Hyper Sport effort will be Joe Foster, experienced ALMS competitor and Chief Driving Instructor of the Panoz Racing School.
"Joe's years of experience in the ALMS driving different types of GT and GTS class cars combined with his engineering background make him the right man for the job," says Nyberg.
Foster will also be the primary testing and development driver for the program.
Hyper Sport and EMT will continue to develop the car throughout the year and plan a second Esperante GT-LM racer to hit the track as the season progresses.