A Panoz In Holland
The 2004 Dutch Supercar Challenge will see the return of the Panoz marque to European GT racing. German privateer Mirco Schultis will be driving an Esperante GTS, a car similar to those used in the Panoz Racing Series that supports the ALMS. The first test took place at Hockenheim last week, "and at 9 am it was still snowing, the track was wet all day, and it was freezing cold. But it was great!" says an enthusiastic Mirco Schultis. Testing will continue soon at the Eurospeedway Lausitzring, the currently foul Central European weather permitting.

The chassis itself is a 2001 Panoz Racing Series car and has been in Germany for a while, but was never raced. German team RED Motorsport brought it to the Nürburgring for evaluation purposes, but in the end it was used for passenger rides and as a demonstrator. It's seen below, outside RED's premises last year.

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Now it is being updated to the latest Panoz Racing Series specification, with a few differences: "We have changed the wheels from 17" to 18" because this is a more common tyre size; and many modifications had to be made to meet the DMSB (German motorsport authority) regulations. Lights, indicators, the seat, the various safety systems, and such like." These changes will still have to be approved by the DMSB.

dailysportscar.comThe occasional outing in the Belcar is also a possibility but "we would be in the same class as the Vipers and turbo Porsches. With the 380hp we've got, that wouldn't make sense."

And since this is a German team, what about the German Endurance Championship, and the Nürburgring 24 Hours? "We are working on it", says Mr. Schultis, "but it's not looking good." There is one major hitch: "Panoz is not registered with the German Bureau of Motor Vehicles as an automobile manufacturer." And according to the Nürburgring regulations, this is the main criterion for vehicle eligibility. Perhaps someone in Atlanta, GA would like to lend a helping hand with the paperwork?

At present, the Esperante GTS does not seem to quite fit into any of the existing European regulations, so why choose it over something tried and proven? "Why I am doing this I don't know," admits Mirco Schultis, "I simply fell in love with the car." - not a bad reason at all we think.
Johannes Gauglica

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