The Panoz Avezzano will start life as a Pirelli World Challenge GTS-spec car, before a planned transition to SRO GT4 homologation, according to Panoz Racing Team boss Tom Milner.
Milner has revealed further details on the team’s planned two-car PWC effort, which is set to see Ian James debut the V8-powered car in next month’s season-opener at St. Pete.
“Right now we are trying to get a car together and overcome the political hurdles. The GTS car, because we race in that series, it makes more sense,” Milner told Sportscar365.
“We have a much better opportunity to get the project on its legs quicker. The essential parts of the car will be built to GT4 rules, but you can always do that once you know [the details].
“In order to get the program going, it’s better to call it a GTS car.”
With two cars already in build, Milner said an initial test is planned at a “top secret” location on March 1-2, ahead of the PWC season-opener nine days later.
A final decision on whether the team would debut with two cars has not yet been made.
“I think everything is on schedule, which in racing terms nothing is ever on schedule,” he said.
“You are never ahead of the curve unless you are a multi-billion dollar car manufacturer and you have a long-term plan, and most people in racing don’t have a long-term plan.
“But the goal is to build GT4 cars and to have an opportunity to sell cars, not only here in this country but also somewhere else.
“The Panoz organization is interested in China and what’s happening there, and so that could be a good market.
“To me it’s just a case of what’s the most experienced, quickest thing we can do that we can get going?”
While Milner said Panoz’s immediate focus will be on PWC, he expects the program to expand in the coming years to include customer cars worldwide.
“Once we get it going, we’ll have the opportunity to build more cars,” he said.
“For example, let’s suppose we would go and race in Europe somewhere, then obviously we would have to have a GT4 car and not a GTS car.
“The differences are not that big, so I think that kind of stuff can be easily achieved.
“Whatever the requirements are of how many street cars we have to build, that’s a different matter and we’ll deal with that once it actually becomes a [reality].”
Milner said he’s yet to decide on the team’s second driver but admitted there’s a large crop of candidates, including ex-Panoz drivers, that have shown interest in the program.
“But first I’d like to see how this actually goes with Ian. I know him well,” he said.
“He’s raced for us for many years and raced an Esperante before (pictured above). He has all of the ingredients from the comparison point of view.
“After that we’ll decide what we want to do.”
James, who will combine his Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup program with the 3GT Racing Lexus squad with development and race duties of the Avezzano, said he’s looking forward to the challenge.
“I’ve always been excited at the development phase of programs, so getting back with Panoz and Tom is exciting,” James told Sportscar365. “It’s nice to be involved from the start and have a real impact on the success of the program.
“I’m full of hope. It’s a very competitive class and it’s where we need to be racing, especially in the first year or so.”
Milner, meanwhile, who makes his racing return since closing the doors of his PTG team in 2013, said he’s excited for his next chapter in the sport.
“For me personally it’s kind of fun,” he said. “My real business is one horsepower now (horse farm), it’s not really a business but that’s what I do.
“You don’t spend 40-something years in racing and then turn your back on it.
“I’ve got a son that races, I’ve got a daughter thats involved in racing and I have a few friends in racing.”