Panoz Signs Bill Again
“We’ll bring some excitement to the GT2 battleground next year”

Those are the words of Bill Auberlen, who tested a Panoz Esperante GT-LM at a freezing Road Atlanta yesterday, and was confirmed as one of the team’s drivers for 2005.

“The Panoz Esperante is powerful and comfortable to drive fast,” announced the Californian. “The track was below freezing for pretty much the whole morning, so we were only able to put in a couple of hours of track time in the afternoon. I’m excited to have been invited to help take the GT LM to the next competitive level. The car really has loads of potential and they’ve only scratched the surface. It’s great to be back with the Panoz boys and we’re all looking forward to racing against the Porsches this year. Based on this brief first outing, I expect we’ll bring some excitement to the GT2 battleground next year.”

The class needs some Porsche rivalry next year, and Auberlen seems convinced that he can be part of a front-engined GT challenge.

“Even in near-freezing conditions, we were able to turn Road Atlanta within a few tenths of a second of our previous best time here,” said General Manager Ed Triolo. “To be in such a position this early on before the season is also a credit to our partners at Élan Power Products, Pirelli and the engineering support of Élan Motorsport Technologies.”

Jameson Riley (19) also had a stint behind the wheel yesterday. Riley set some good lap times, helped by coaching from Gunnar Jeannette. Last year Riley drove for the Volvo team in the SPEED World Challenge GT series, alongside Derek Bell.

Here are Jeannette and Auberlen, part of the Panoz prototype team in 2002, at scrutineering at Le Mans (from the left - Jeannette, Auberlen, Donohue, Herta, Brabham and Magnussen). A second spell with Panoz follows two spells driving BMWs, most recently a PTG M3 in Grand Am. Yes, it was the year of the odd-coloured hair.

In related news, the rumour that Alex Job Racing would be running one car in the ALMS in 2005 has effectively been confirmed (by Autosport tomorrow): Porsche's Uwe Brettel has expressed the view that the company wants to open up the GT2 class to its customers. A little late for one team?

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