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Panoz GT-EV “Under Evaluation” for Future Garage 56 Entry

Don Panoz’s radical GT-EV car in the mix for a future Garage 56 entry…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

ACO Sporting Director Vincent Beaumesnil has confirmed that the Panoz GT-EV concept unveiled on Thursday is “under evaluation” for a future Garage 56 entry, but stressed that there is no defined year for it to be on the grid at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Don Panoz announced his intention to request an entry for the fully-electric GT-EV under Garage 56, which was not used this year after WR’s planned Bio-Methane-powered car did not materialize.

While Panoz is aiming to have the GT-EV on the grid for next year, Beaumesnil said that concepts often need time to be properly developed and evaluated, but confirmed that the project is in the mix for Garage 56.

“They are a candidate. The project is under evaluation for the future, for the future, no defined year,” Beaumesnil said.

“These kinds of concepts need time. Generally, people come with the ambition of one year or one specific year and we make the evaluation and then tell you when you can do it.

“There is obviously many safety aspects that need to be evaluated and this takes the longest time for Garage 56. Then we need to make sure. You know that in [the] past we had some projects that were not really fully satisfying for us.”

Beaumesnil did express confidence in Panoz, who previously took the innovative DeltaWing car to Le Mans in 2012 as the inaugural Garage 56 entry.

“We want to bring cars that really confirm strong projects. I know Don when he does something, he does it very well,” he said.

“I’m very happy he is committed to this project. Then we have our evaluation, so there is no commitment on any date. We need some time.”

Panoz said he hopes his track record in previous projects will boost his chances of clinching the Garage 56 entry at Le Mans in the future, but did not put a firm prediction on his chances.

“It’s up to the ACO. I think I’ve been a good performer,” Panoz told Sportscar365. “I think I’m the most successful performer in Garage 56 so far. But it’s their decision.

“We’re here because we’d like to be selected, but it’s their decision. The car can race other places too.”

It’s understood Panoz could take the project to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, as part of the sanctioning body’s new “Innovation Garage” initiative, which IMSA President Scott Atherton said would be open for similar experimental cars showcasing new technology.

Beaumesnil, meanwhile, did add that multiple projects were under consideration for future Garage 56 entries including Panoz’s GT-EV, with hydrogen power being a key area of interest for the ACO.

Members of the Green GT project were on-site at Le Mans this past weekend, with plans moving forward on its hydrogen-powered car, which turned a demonstration lap at Le Mans last year.

“We believe in hydrogen. We think it needs time,” Beaumesnil said. “We see that it’s clear that it is a challenge to bring it within the top-level of performance in LMP1, but we believe we can make it some day.

“So every determined step we can do with them or anybody, we are open to discussion.

“I would love to have a hydrogen car in Garage 56 coming back. We are not closed.”

John Dagys contributed to this report.

Luke Smith is a British motorsport journalist who has served as NBC Sports’ lead Formula 1 writer since 2013, as well as working on its online sports car coverage.


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