Esparante GTR-1 Racecar '98

History

The Panoz Esperante GTR-1 (also known as Panoz GTR-1 and later the Panoz GTP) was a race car developed by Panoz Auto Development and Reynard Motorsport for grand tourer endurance racing in 1997. Although named after the Panoz
Esperante roadster, the GTR-1 actually bore no mechanical relation to the production Esperante, instead sharing only minor styling points. Only two road-legal GTR-1s were built to meet homologation requirements set forth by the
ruling bodies which the racing cars ran under.

The GTR-1 competed in the FIA GT Championship and 24 Hours of Le Mans in Europe as well as the IMSA GT, United States Road Racing Championship, and American Le Mans Series in North America.

Development

Begun in 1996, Reynard Motorsports' special vehicles division began work with Panoz to begin development of a grand tourer style racing car meant for the upcoming FIA GT Championship in 1997. Don Panoz, wanting to keep an
American-style of design, insisted that the car be based on his Esperante sports car in some way. Due to this, the Esperante GTR-1 became unique in comparison to its Mercedes-Benz, Lotus, Porsche, and McLaren counterparts in
that, like the production Esperante, the engine was located in front of the cockpit. Although located behind the front axle to give it a balanced mid-engine layout, having the engine in front gave the car unusual proportions,
including a large nose and a cockpit placed as far back in the body. The unusual look, including a large bulging intake in the center of the nose, earned the car the nickname "Batmobile" due to its resemblance to the car used by
the comic book hero. Following the initial 1997 season, the bodywork was modified in 1998 by lengthening the front and rear bodywork for increased downforce and handling capabilities.

For an engine, Panoz attempted to keep the American theme by using a Ford V8 engine similar to the one used in his Esperante. Instead of the standard 4.6L V8, Panoz turned to Roush Racing of NASCAR fame to construct 6.0L V8s
based on Ford engines. Panoz's Élan Power Products would maintain the V8 engines and continue in development.

In order to meet homologation requirements which said that racing cars had to be based on production, road legal cars, Panoz built a single GTR-1 which featured full interiors and minor modifications to make it able to be
legally registered. This car has been retained by Don Panoz. It now features a slightly smaller 5.3L V8 instead of the full 6.0L V8 race engine, since rules allowed engine sizes to be modified in the racing cars.
[edit] Q9 Hybrid

For 1998, Panoz reached an agreement with English firm Zytek to develop a hybrid electric motor for the Esperante GTR-1. The idea was that the car would be able to gain better fuel mileage by using an electric motor that would
help drive the rear wheels during acceleration, thus requiring less power from the gasoline engine, so consuming less fuel. The car would of course require a set of batteries to power the electric motor. To recharge the batteries,
a regenerative braking system would be used, the same electric motor now being used to generate electricity. This would reduce the wastage of energy normally emitted as heat from the brakes.

By using less fuel, the car would thus be able to make fewer pit stops in endurance races, such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and thus would be able to spend more time on the track and achieve a farther distance. The car, referred
to as Q9, was constructed by Panoz, Reynard, and Zytek and developed by David Price Racing for the 1998 season. In honor of its electric power, the car received a unique purple paint job with large yellow lightning bolts.

1998

For 1998, with the evolved Esperante GTR-1 bodywork, the program was expanded. The factory Panoz team would race not only in IMSA GT but also the new United States Road Racing Championship. DAMS would continue in FIA GT, while
David Price would drop out in an attempt to develop the Esperante GTR-1 Q9 for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

In USSRC, the factory Panoz team were fought hard with Porsche yet again GT classes, winning class in three of the five events in the season but losing to Porsche in the manufacturer's championship by a mere three points, but
winning the teams championship. In IMSA, Panoz was more dominant as they won seven of the eight races, including taking an overall win at the rain drenched Sebring Fall Festival in October. This earned them the constructors and
teams championship for the season.

In Europe, DAMS also proved more powerful. Although incapable of competing with the Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR juggernaut, it was able to compete well against the Porsche 911 GT1, earning points in seven of ten rounds with best
results of third at Hockenheimring and Dijon-Prenois. This success earned DAMS 5th in the teams championship.

David Price Racing tested the GTR-1 Q9 throughout the season, making its first competition appearance at the test days for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Unfortunately the car was only able to achieve the 39th fastest time, well
behind the two Panoz factory entries. It was found that the car was too overweight and slowed down by the addition of the batteries necessary to run the hybrid system. Thus plans for competing at Le Mans were abandoned. The car
would make one more appearance later on in the initial Petit Le Mans, part of the IMSA schedule. The car managed to finish 12th overall. After this, the Q9 project was cancelled.

Meanwhile, with the Q9 gone, the Panoz factory team concentrated on Le Mans with their own two cars. Although one car failed to finish, the second entry managed to take a 7th place overall finish a mere 16 laps behind the
overall winning Porsche.

 

GT5 Specs

 

Country
Production
Start
End
Cost
US$
Body Style
2 DR
4 DR
Hatch
Wagon
SUV
Seats #
Engine
Type
Displacement (cc)
Power (HP)
Matrix Power (HP)
Best
Stock
Stealth
Max
Torque
LB/FT
Stock
Stealth
Max
PowerPoints
Default
Minimum
Maximum
Stock
Stealth
Weight
Min
Max
Aspiration
Stock
Supercharger
Turbo
Drivetrain
FF
FR
MR
RR
AWD