Ian James believes they’ve turned the corner in development of the Panoz Avezzano GT, with a breakthrough first Pirelli World Challenge victory likely around the corner for the GTS class contender.
The Englishman is coming off a season-best second-place finish in Race 1 at Lime Rock Park last month, and led Race 2 until a race-ending engine failure dashed hopes of a maiden win.
Heading into this weekend’s round at Road America, James is upbeat on their chances in the remainder of the PWC season, in what’s been a rapid rate of development for the Elan-powered car.
“The main thing is that we now have a chance,” James told Sportscar365. “Rushing to build the car, we never really got a chance to do any performance stuff on it.
“We’ve now had a chance to look at that and fine tune some of that. The car is now feeling good.
“We’ve done a little bit of testing and learned a little bit on what likes and doesn’t like. Now we should be competitive from here to the end of the year.”
James and the Tom Milner-led team are coming off a single-day test at Road Atlanta where they were able to make further setup gains, particularly in the damper package.
The car has also recently spent time on a shaker rig, which James said has “opened a new world” in terms of optimizing the car’s setup.
Despite having received a 25kg weight increase since the last round, he believes they will have a shot at another podium, if not a win, in the pair of 50-minute sprint races at the fast and flowing four-mile circuit.
“I think it should be good,” he said. “We got hit with a little bit of a BoP, which is a bit strange considering how close everything was at Lime Rock. But it is what it is.
“I don’t know what the ultimate lap times will be around here. But if the performance from Lime Rock is anything to stand by, we should be in with a chance for the win.
“We’ll give it a go and I think we’ll be right towards the sharp end.”
With a chance of rain on Sunday, James feels it could again play into their hand, after their runner-up finish in the rain-soaked race at Lime Rock.
“The good thing is that Rodrigo [Baptisa] and myself checked out from everyone else in the rain [at Lime Rock],” he said. it shows our package is reasonable.
“The Porsche is always strong in the rain but ours is too.”
James said he’s enjoyed playing an integral role in the car’s development, which sees the Georgia-based team work towards its goal of GT4 homologation and making available customer cars.
“One of my strengths is always being in the development phase; I really enjoy that,” he said.
“Just driving is rewarding but seeing the car get better and better and developing it is just as rewarding for me.
“It’s a great group of guys here and it’s good to see them challenging for wins again after a bit of a lean patch.”