Ian James says he’s relishing his return to the wheel of the Panoz Avezzano GT4 in this weekend’s Pirelli GT4 America SprintX races at Road America, in what will mark a reunion for both drivers and team.
While having closed its doors at the end of last year following James’ and the team’s GT4 America Sprint titles, Team Panoz Racing has been resurrected for the final three SRO America events of the season.
An initiative led by Danny Panoz, son of the late company founder Don, will see the cars back on the grid under a new partnership with China-based Galaxy Trade and Technology.
The company, a “U.S.-China joint venture” according to its website, is focused on the mining of magnesium and its application to the automotive industry.
“They’ve been trying to put it together and it came through,” James told Sportscar365.
“Most of the crew have gone their own ways but they’ll coming back together for these races.
“It’s essentially a lot of the same faces but they’e not doing it full-time anymore.”
James, who doubled as team manager and driver last year, has stood down from management duties at Panoz, which has gone to the team’s former crew chief Stef Chistel.
Matt Keegan will join James behind the wheel of the No. 50 Panoz, with Preston Calvert teaming up with Roman De Angelis, James’ co-driver in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, in the second entry.
Both cars, which recently completed shakedowns at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, will compete for Pro-Am class honors.
“I enjoy driving the Panoz,” James said. “It’s a fun car to drive. I have a really good relationship with Matt so it’s fun driving with him and Preston.
“It’s also good for Roman to get a bit more diverse experience. It can only help with the IMSA program.”
With little work done to the cars since its last outing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last year, James is heading into this weekend with managed expectations, knowing that Balance of Performance could play a key factor in the outcome as well.
“It’s all BoP-related,” he said. “The car is on a relatively small restrictor so Road America we found, last year, was a bit of a struggle.
“I doubt it’s going to be any different. Maybe if it rains on Friday we could cause a bit of an upset.
“It’s going to be a bit of an uphill but we’ll try our best.”