With the announcement of this year's Petit Le Mans entry list, the largest ever in both number of cars and classes, also comes more details about the Panoz Abruzzi “Spirit of Le Mans”. Don Panoz, the father of the American Le Mans Series, began with the idea of homologating a prototype road car and has produced a technological masterpiece set to make its racing debut in a few weeks at the Petit Le Mans. Unveiled earlier this June at the 78th running of the 24 hours of Le Mans, the Abruzzi gets its inspiration from the time when drivers would pilot their car to Le Mans, race it twice around the clock then drive back home – fully capturing the “Spirit of Le Mans”.
In addition to its unique aerodynamic styling and its impressive power and torque, a number of technical advancements will be pioneered and proven on the Abruzzi. The composite material forming its body is breaks new ground in environmental design and construction represented by the Recyclable Energy Absorbing Matrix System body system – R.E.A.M.S. ®. Possessing the ability to stop a bullet from 20 feet, it is dent-resistant, shatter-proof, recyclable, and lighter than carbon fiber. Abruzzi also introduces TRIFECTACOOLING® technology. In addition to a normal high-efficiency radiator located behind the rear window, there are stage two and stage three systems that lower coolant temperature on both the inflow to and the outflow from the radiator.
Added to the breakthrough in the car's technology is the delivery method. Purchasers of the Abruzzi will take delivery of the car only at the venue that served as the inspiration for its design, receiving a 2-day course from professional drivers on the Bugatti Circuit of Le Mans. Each vehicle will be associated with a specific Le Mans 24 Hour race, taking on as part of its chassis number, the specific race date and initials of the winning drivers. The opportunity to drive a parade lap of the full Circuit de la Sarthe for that particular year as well as hospitalities by Panoz at the ACO's facilities in the “Module Sportif” are all included in the package.
This recently released photograph, divulges changes to the headlights but an otherwise intact design. Under the hood of the hand-built, front-engine, rear-trans axle car is a Corvette ZR1 LS9 motor producing 640 horsepower and 590 ft.-lbs of torque and will remain relatively stock. As a limited edition, only 81 cars will be crafted over the span of 3 years to coincide with the 81st running of the 24 hours of Le Mans in 2013. With the road-going super car not expected to be homologated until the end of the year, the Abruzzi will race unclassified, alongside Porsche's 911 GT3 R Hybrid in the season-ending American Le Mans Series round.