The racing version of Panoz Auto Development Company's newest road-going supercar has been hard at it with a heavy test program in advance of its next appearance at Mosport International Raceway, where the American Le Mans Series resumes on July 24 after its traditional break for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Mobil 1 presents Grand Prix of Mosport – the fourth round of the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón – will mark the first race outside the U.S. for the Abruzzi "Spirit of Le Mans" GT entry.
“The race at Mosport this year will have special meaning for the team,” said company founder Don Panoz. "As you know, we recently announced the return of the track to Canadian ownership, so to see the Abruzzi on track will be very poignant. The demanding nature of Mosport and the very close racing we always see at this wonderful track is the perfect platform for the continued evaluation of our development program, while we await the final government certification on the road car. Furthermore, it makes sense at this time in the track's history that we are grateful participants at this historic facility.”
The Abruzzi Spirit of Le Mans racecar is being prepared by Tom Milner's Prototype Technology Group, a past champion in the American Le Mans Series. Ian James, the 2004 LMP2 champion and lead development driver, heads the driver lineup for the Panoz team entry in the GT class.
The Abruzzi Spirit of Le Mans looks to add to an extensive race-winning legacy established by the Panoz brand. The Georgia-based manufacturer tasted victory in class at Sebring in 1998 with the Panoz GTR-1 and again in 2006 with the Esperante GTLM. The latter spurred the marque toward its first win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the same year.
Panoz and PTG first showed the race-going Abruzzi GT at Petit Le Mans last October at Road Atlanta. It turned a processional lap prior to the annual 1,000-mile/10-hour event and was the centerpiece of the Panoz display in the main paddock.
“It was extremely important for us to unveil the Panoz Abruzzi ‘Spirit of Le Mans' at Petit Le Mans,” Panoz said. “I'm glad we could give the fans a glimpse of the new car. There was so much anticipation with so much support for Panoz out there – and particularly here in Braselton as the factory is just down the road. We were thrilled to make the 12 Hours at Sebring and although a simple mechanical issue made it a very short day for us there, we were very excited by the data we gathered and it has been a huge help to our test program.
“Everyone from PTG, Panoz Auto Development and Élan Technologies has worked tirelessly to have this very unique concept for a race and street supercar completed and certified,” Panoz added. "While we are still awaiting results from a few final government test labs on the street car certification, we want to move forward in proving the cars metal on the racetrack. The response to the Abruzzi ‘Spirit of Le Mans', both from the fans and within the industry, has been overwhelming and everyone involved should be very proud of what they have achieved.”
The Abruzzi Spirit of Le Mans is a unique, front-engine, rear-transaxle and rear-radiator super sports car – road-legal in Europe and many countries of Asia, the Middle East and South America. It is powered by a V8 engine producing 640hp at 6500rpm and 600-plus ft-lbs of torque at 3800rpm. Its styling is inspired by automobiles like the 1935 Delahaye and born of a pre-war era of classic streamlining.
In addition to its unique aerodynamic styling and its impressive power and torque, a number of technical advancements are being pioneered on the car. It breaks new ground in environmental design and construction represented by the Recyclable Energy Absorbing Matrix System body system, which offers "environmental, performance and structural advantages like no other automobile body system on the planet," according to the company.
"Never used before on any road-going automobile, the multi-layer composite system is lighter than carbon fiber yet equally strong. Unlike carbon fiber, however, it is dent-resistant, shatter-proof and recyclable," Panoz says.
Abruzzi also introduces "Trifectacooling" technology. In addition to a normal high-efficiency radiator, there are stage two and stage three systems that lower coolant temperature on both the inflow to and the outflow from the radiator.