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
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.
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.
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.”
“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.
Larry Holt directing proceedings, below. Team Manager Andy Waldrep
is with Jeannette and Saelens in the second photograph.