The mighty Panoz Esperante LMP-1 Roadster S on display at the 2016 “Americans at Le Mans” exhibit

2016 also marks the 10th anniversary of the Team LNT’s GT class victory in a Panoz Esperante at the 2006 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The mighty Panoz Esperante LMP-1 Roadster S on display at the 2016 “Americans at Le Mans” exhibit
#11Panoz LMP-1 Roadster S: David Brabham, Jan Magnussen, Mario Andretti
#11Panoz LMP-1 Roadster S: David Brabham, Jan Magnussen, Mario Andretti
#11Panoz LMP-1 Roadster S: David Brabham, Jan Magnussen, Mario Andretti
#12 Panoz LMP-1 Roadster S: Hiroki Katou, Johnny O'Connell, Pierre-Henri Raphanel
#10 Team Den Bla Avis Panoz LMP-1: John Nielsen, Klaus Graf, Mauro Baldi
#12 Panoz LMP-1 Roadster S: Hiroki Katou, Johnny O'Connell, Pierre-Henri Raphanel
#51 Multimatic Motorsports Team Panoz Panoz Esperante GTLM: Gunnar Jeannette, Tom Milner
#11Panoz LMP-1 Roadster S: David Brabham, Jan Magnussen, Mario Andretti
#45 Panoz Motor Sports Panoz GTR-1: David Brabham, Andy Wallace, Jamie Davies
#44 Panoz Motor Sports Panoz GTR-1: Eric Bernard, Christophe Tinseau, Johnny O'Connell
#44 Panoz Motor Sports Panoz GTR-1: Eric Bernard, Christophe Tinseau, Johnny O'Connell
#45 Panoz Motor Sports Panoz GTR-1: David Brabham, Andy Wallace, Jamie Davies
#45 Panoz Motor Sports Panoz GTR-1: David Brabham, Andy Wallace, Jamie Davies
#45 Panoz Motor Sports Panoz GTR-1: David Brabham, Andy Wallace, Jamie Davies
#50 Panoz Motor Sports Panoz Esperante GTLM: Bill Auberlen, Robin Liddell, Scott Maxwell

Atlanta – Panoz, the U.S.-based manufacturer of exclusive luxury sports and some of endurance sports car racing’s most memorable front-engine race cars, will display one of its Esperante LMP-1 Roadster S prototype race cars at the 2016 Le Mans 24 Hours, the 84th running of endurance racing’s premiere event.

This iconic, American V8-powered fan favorite will be part of a very special “Americans at Le Mans” 13,000-sq.-ft. exhibit located in the heart of the 24 Hours of Le Mans village. In addition to the Panoz, the exhibit includes 15 American race cars spanning nine decades to celebrate the 110th anniversary of the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) and the Americans who raced at Le Mans.

The Panoz Esperante LMP-1 Roadster S on display is the car driven by David Brabham, Jan Magnussen and Mario Andretti at the 2000 24 Hours of Le Mans. Wearing the No. 11 and the scarlet red Panoz/Adelaide livery, it qualified fourth and finished 15th overall. The sister No. 12 car driven by Hiroki Katou, Johnny O'Connell, and Pierre-Henri Raphanel was eighth in qualifying and finished fifth overall. Counting the Team Dragon entries from Japan and the Danish-sponsored Den Blas Avis Panoz, a total of five Panoz Esperante LMP-1 Roadster S race cars started the grueling event, and all five finished the race. This was no small feat for an unconventional race car only in its second year of competition.

The Ford V8 up front, just like our street cars

The Panoz Esperante LMP-1 Roadster S was unique in the prototype class because of its powerful Ford V8 positioned in front of the driver. Never one to follow the status quo, Don Panoz first revisited this configuration in 1997 when he founded the Panoz Motor Sport Group and worked with renowned race car designer Adrian Reynard to create the closed-cockpit Panoz Esperante GTR-1.

“Initially, I went to the Panoz factory to consult on their Roadster,” said Reynard. “But when I saw the prototype for the Esperante, which is a very beautiful sports coupe, I commented that it would make a great GT race car. I asked Don, ‘Wouldn’t you like to win Le Mans?’ He said yes, and so the project was born… . Pretty much the only constraints he gave us were that we had to put the engine in the front and that it would be a Ford V8.”*

Panoz also was a hybrid racing pioneer, creating the 1998 Panoz Q9 GTR-1 Hybrid, affectionately known as “Sparky.” Like today’s hybrid race cars, the Q9 featured a combustion engine paired with an electric motor to help drive the car and had a regenerative braking system to recharge its batteries.

Derived from the GTR-1, the Panoz Esperante LMP-1 Roadster S featured the larger 6.0-liter pushrod Ford V8 rather than the 4.6-liter V8 used in the Panoz AIV Roadster. In the 2,057-lb. LMP-1 Roadster S it produced 620 horsepower at 6,600 rpm and more than 500 ft./lb. of torque. In 1999 it became the first front mid-engine prototype race car to win a U.S. race since the 1983 Mustang GTP victory in the Camel GT series. It went on to score four wins over the dominant factory Audi R8 race cars, and fans loved its outstanding performance, unique design, and sonorous and angry V8 roar.

Team LNT Panoz Esperante wins the 2006 24 Hours of Le Mans GT class

While the Le Mans overall win eluded the Panoz GTR-1 and LMP-1 Roadster S teams, the brand was victorious at both Sebring and Le Mans in 2006.

The Panoz Motor Sport Group fielded successful teams racing the Panoz Esperante GTLM, a racing version of the Panoz Esperante GTLM two-seat sports car. Built specifically to compete in the GT2 class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), it featured a naturally aspirated stock Ford V8 block bored to 5.0 liters with custom crank, rods, pistons, and a heavily massaged intake manifold and produced about 500 horsepower.

On April 17, 2005 Panoz scored its first win with the new car when the No. 50 Panoz Esperante GTLM piloted by Bill Auberlen and Robin Liddell beat the Porsche 911 of Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas in the No. 23 Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3. Success continued in 2006 when the No. 50 Multimatic Motorsports Panoz Esperante GTLM driven by David Brabham, Scott Maxwell, and Sébastien Bourdais won GT2 class at the 54th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

But the pinnacle of Panoz racing success with this car occurred at the 2006 24 Hours of Le Mans. Ten years ago this month Team LNT shocked the experts by winning the GT2 class and finishing 15th overall in the No. 81 Panoz Esperante GTLM race car. Drivers Lawrence Tomlinson, Tom Kimber-Smith and Richard Dean completed 321 laps and finished one lap ahead of the No. 83 Seikel Motorsport Farnbacher Racing Porsche 911 GT3-RS.

“It was an amazing race,” said Lawrence Tomlinson, founding chairman of the LNT Group and chairman of Ginetta Cars Ltd. “We set our target lap times and just hit those. Our intention was to stop less than everyone else, and driving economically gave us one extra lap per stint. By the time others realized what we were doing fit was too late. The car ran faultlessly and the V8 never missed a beat."

Panoz

shares
comments
Larbre confirms Belloc for injured Ruberti at Le Mans

Previous article

Larbre confirms Belloc for injured Ruberti at Le Mans

Next article

Remembering Le Mans 1966 – video

Remembering Le Mans 1966 – video
Load comments
The lasting legacy of a fallen Indy car rookie Prime

The lasting legacy of a fallen Indy car rookie

Jeff Krosnoff was plucked out of obscurity to become a respected and highly popular professional in Japan, and then got his big break in CART Indy car for 1996. But a tragic accident at Toronto 25 years ago cut short a promising career and curtailed his regular teammate Mauro Martini's passion for racing.

IndyCar
Jul 14, 2021
The significance of the next step in WEC/IMSA convergence Prime

The significance of the next step in WEC/IMSA convergence

Following the latest convergence connection permitting Le Mans Hypercars from the FIA World Endurance Championship to compete against LMDh entries in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship from 2023, it could open up enticing options not only to manufacturers but also for the calendar and race formats

WEC
Jul 13, 2021
How overlooked Mazda produced one of Le Mans' greatest shocks Prime

How overlooked Mazda produced one of Le Mans' greatest shocks

The screaming rotary-engined Mazda 787 is regarded as one of the most popular Le Mans 24 Hours-winning cars, but until its surprise success on this day 30 years ago it was never regarded as a likely victor. But that reckoned without a new technical partner, some canny political manoeuvring and a rival's bizarre self-inflicted weakness.

Le Mans
Jun 23, 2021
How an ingenious fix prevented Paul Newman from winning Le Mans Prime

How an ingenious fix prevented Paul Newman from winning Le Mans

It's one of the great what-if stories in Le Mans history. Paul Newman finished second in the 24 Hours in 1979, but it could easily have been a famous victory were it not for the resourcefulness of the late Manfred Kremer.

Le Mans
Apr 13, 2021
Why Ferrari is ending its 50-year top-flight sportscar racing exile Prime

Why Ferrari is ending its 50-year top-flight sportscar racing exile

Making a return to top-flight sportscar racing after 50 years away, Ferrari will enter the Le Mans Hypercar ranks in 2023. The Italian marque denies the link with Formula 1's new cost cap that frees up resources, but it's certainly no coincidence...

WEC
Feb 25, 2021
Oliver Gavin's Corvette Racing highlights Prime

Oliver Gavin's Corvette Racing highlights

Oliver Gavin has stepped down from the full-time Corvette Racing line-up after a stellar career with the team spanning nearly 20 years. He looks back on a stint that encompassed, among other successes, five Le Mans 24 Hours victories.

Le Mans
Jan 28, 2021
How Tandy joined an exclusive club of endurance legends Prime

How Tandy joined an exclusive club of endurance legends

Victory at last year's Spa 24 Hours meant Nick Tandy had completed the unofficial sextuple crown of the world's six biggest endurance races, becoming the first Briton to do so. Ahead of his fresh start with Corvette Racing, he explains how he did it…

Le Mans
Jan 24, 2021
The cherished curios kept by motorsport's professionals at home Prime

The cherished curios kept by motorsport's professionals at home

Keeping trophies and momentos of key triumphs is par for the course for motorsport professionals, but what are the most cherished souvenirs picked up by the drivers and engineers who have seen and done it all?

General
Dec 26, 2020