Saelens Tries The Esperante
Mid-Ohio Debut Is On

Former French Formula 3 champion David Saelens tried out the heavily revised Panoz Esperante GT-LM at Road Atlanta yesterday – with partner Gunnar Jeannette on hand too, plus Kelly Collins

The Panoz factory racing team returns to action with this car at Mid-Ohio on June 25-27, these two drivers having raced together (once in the same car, Saelens then partnering Beretta) for the JML Team Panoz outfit last year.

“It’s a nice project,” said Saelens. “There’s a lot of potential in the car. I was very impressed with the handling. We were not here to try to do fast times, but it’s so easy to drive the car and it works so well that the good times came anyway. It looks promising.”

The Panoz team brought Collins in for the test to draw on his experience and gain input and data to aid in the development of the car.

The Belgian is running a full schedule this season in Porsche Supercup, following the F1 'circus', and there are some date clashes between the two series, but the Panoz team has only formally announced plans to race the new car at Mid-Ohio, though other races could be added to the schedule.

“I’m very happy that Don Panoz called me and asked me to drive,” said Saelens. “I wanted to come back to America again this year but I didn’t know if I would have the opportunity. Now I have the chance to race in Europe and in America, and I can also help with the testing and development of this car.

“Before, I never had to worry about people passing me, but now I’ll have to be looking in the mirrors more to see where the other cars are.”

Porsches, perhaps? Top Porsches?

“My time last year in the Prototype will help me in a GT car because you know where they (Prototypes) will pass you, and you can see them in the mirror and know how fast they will close on you. That experience will be a big plus for me.”

We (at dsc) have high hopes for a well developed, big-engined GT car under the current regulations. There’s an opportunity here that has only rarely been exploited – so far.

Notice Multimatic’s Larry Holt directing proceedings, below. Team Manager Andy Waldrep is with Jeannette and Saelens in the second photograph.

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