From its successful introduction on the American Le Mans Series earlier this year, the Panoz Esperante GT-LM race car is on the threshold of making its presence felt on racing circuits in both America and Europe as its builder launches a new customer car program.
The Panoz factory team is expected to expand to a two-car operation for the American Le Mans Series in 2005, and an announcement is also expected soon of a racing team that will run two Panoz Esperante GT-LMs in the European Le Mans Series. There are also expected to be American and European entries in the 24 Hours of Le Mans next year with the car.
The Panoz Esperante GT-LM can also be built to specifications for customers in other racing series, including the SCCA’s SPEED World Challenge and others.
"Don Panoz has shown, and continues to show, major commitment to this program," said David Bowes, Chief Executive Officer of EMT. "We have undertaken a multi-million dollar development and test program over the last 18 months, since the program was first authorized. We are now committed to building 10 new chassis for the 2005 season, and we are well through this build phase. EMT has the engineering and manufacturing resources to ensure that anyone who buys one of these chassis to go racing next year will be over-awed by the level of engineering and parts support back up that we offer."
After an extensive testing and development program, the Panoz Esperante GT-LM made its competitive debut in the ALMS event at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in June, qualifying second-fastest and setting the race’s fastest lap in the GT class before being damaged due to contact with another car. Sin ce its racing debut, the car has undergone more development on the race track, in the wind tunnel and in many hours of testing.
The car that has been racing in ALMS events is Chassis #3, while Chassis #4 and 5 have been completed and are ready for use by customers. EMT is now in volume production with the car.
"We undertook a major design and development program over the winter, resulting in the launch of a new updated version of the chassis for 2004," said Bowes. "The new chassis is more than 50K lighter than the previous chassis, and the torsional stiffness is a threefold increase. The engine developed for the new chassis in 2004 has produced more than 10 percent more horsepower than the previous engine."
EMT is a multi-faceted motorsports engineering company founded by entrepreneur Don Panoz. Panoz G-Force, an EMT subsidiary, designed and built the winning chassis for the 2003 and 2004 Indianapolis 500-Mile Race and 2003 Indy Racing League championship. The impressive EMT portfolio also includes Van Diemen International, the world’s largest volume manufacturer of single-seater formula and sports racing cars.
"It is every race car designers wish to be involved in a program where winning is given top priority," said Christian Rushforth, Chief Designer of the car for EMT. "The new Panoz Esperante GT-LM chassis is capable at winning at all levels of GT racing. I am looking forward to next season where I fully expect this new chassis to achieve landmark success."