Race Car Live! – Panoz And Ginetta
Jonathan Palmer's Race Car Live! idea got off the ground for the first time in November 2005 - on a cold wet day at Brands Hatch. Nearly a month earlier this time - and the weather was absolutely perfect. Here is a chance for prospective racers to try out various cars before they buy.. and there were literally queues of potential track stars eager to sample Ginettas, Radicals, Morgans, Lotuses and a Lola - plus a range of other cars not applicable to these pages. There were some well known names on hand too...

Richard Dean, Tom Kimber-Smith and ‘Mr Ginetta’, Martin Phaff, were present to show off the Ginetta offerings of LNT Automotive to aspiring 2007 competitors. There was also plenty of Panoz news... to come.

TK-S was out in the first session in the ‘baby’ Ginetta with his better half - “showing her a good time!” We’ll draw a veil over that one, but suffice to say that his young lady emerged from the little Ginetta Junior looking flushed and mighty impressed!

The dsc Deputy Ed was next up, after taking a moment or two to catch up with things British GT:

“We had our best weekend of the year at Magny-Cours,” remarked Tom Kimber-Smith. “Luke (Hines) drove an absolute blinder and it was really nice to hear Tim Mullen at the Championship dinner thanking us for putting up such a good fight all season.”

Then it was time to climb aboard the Ginetta (and out of it again, right!), still in the capable hands of T K-S for a few quick laps.

Despite having just a 1400cc, 105bhp Ford Zetec engine up front the little coupe version of the Ginetta G20 is surprisingly nippy, weighing just 630 kg.

Better still its handling feels absolutely superb: Paddock Hill Bend was taken unfeasibly quickly with Kimber-Smith really chucking the little car around.

More rapid progress was stopped only by a lack of straight line grunt, a clutch that was beginning to cry ‘enough!” and the rather mixed abilities on display elsewhere on track, in everything from an elderly MG Metro up to a Radical SR8. Aside from that though it was an excellent display of what a light, well-sorted little car can do in the hands of an expert: very impressive indeed.

“These cars are being driven by kids as young as 14,” said Kimber-Smith, “so they need to be predictable and with very safe handling. They are a great way to teach youngsters the differences between karts and race cars.”

Back in the pitlane Richard Dean was dropping some hints on plans for 2007.

“We want to run two cars in the Le Mans Series and of course we have two confirmed entries for the 24 hours. We’re almost there in finally confirming the drivers for the first car and have had plenty of interest in the second one too.”

But Team LNT has a trio of Panoz Esperante GTLMs. What of the third car?

“Well at the moment the British GT car has been broken down for its winter rebuild. We’ll use that as an opportunity to look at a full development programme and will use it as a test and development car as well as a spare in Europe. If however the British GTs look like they will produce at least a six car GT2 grid, then we’d look to run it in the UK again.”

Sebring will however be missing from the team’s 2007 programme: with the Le Mans entries already in the bag the trip to Florida just could not be justified:

“It is a fabulous event and we all loved doing it in 2006, but the fact is that we can spend that money making a real difference in developing and testing the cars in Europe.”

LNT is also the European distributor for the Esperante and the trip to Magny-Cours for the team was touted as an opportunity to show off the cars to prospective customers.

“It is going very well indeed. We’ll have something to say on that in just a few days.”

An official announcement (or announcements) will be with us soon, but for now it’s fair to say that the Le Mans Series in 2007 looks set to include more than just LNT’s two Panoz! And this man, Tom Kimber-Smith, right, clambering out of the Ginetta, should have anther fabulous season ahead of him.

The team’s full 2007 programme and driver line-up looks set to be announced at the Racing Car Show at Birmingham’s NEC, where LNT is due to have a major presence, with the Ginetta Challenge, Playstation Junior Championship and Team LNT Panoz, the latter due to be on the stand ahead of the European launch of the right hand drive Esperante road cars.

In the meantime any mums and dads of 14-16 year old budding Kimber-Smiths might want to drop Ginetta a line at martin@ginettacars.com to get more details of the Junior Championship for 2007.


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