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Panoz Abruzzi under revision but should still race at Sebring
The Panoz Abruzzi Spirit of Le Mans GT race car should be on the grid for the American Le Mans Series season opener, the 12 Hours of Sebring in March, despite a major redesign now under way.

Georgia-based Panoz Auto Development has to revise the original car after discovering that the machine’s windshield area was not of sufficient size to meet European road-homologation requirements. That requires a whole new greenhouse area for the dramatic front-engine design.

“The whole top of the car, including the roll cage, has had to be changed, and that has put us way behind,” said Tom Milner, boss of the PTG team developing the car for racing. “The car can [still] run at Sebring uncertified. That could be a possibility.”

The revisions mean that the Abruzzi has not tested since a brief run at Summit Point Raceway in West Virginia, shortly after Panoz demonstrated the race version of the car at Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta last October. 

The Abruzzi will race at Sebring in the hands of U.S.-based Briton Ian James and Swiss driver Benjamin Leuenberger, both stalwarts of past Panoz GT2 campaigns with the old Esperante model.

Milner promised that the Abruzzi will be able to compete against Ferrari, Chevrolet, BMW and Porsche in the ultracompetitive GT class of the American Le Mans Series.

p “I can’t say how long it will take, but it will be competitive,” he said. “We won’t quit until we get the job done. There are some aspects of the design that show potential.”

The Abruzzi incorporates a rear-mounted radiator layout, with a three-stage cooling system trademarked under the “Trifecta” name. The car’s bodywork is produced from recycled woven plastic.

The homologation issues mean that the Abruzzi will not contest the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year. The race’s rules state that a car must be homologated before a team can lodge an entry for the big race. AutoWeek
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