Photo: Panoz

Panoz goes to PWC with two-car Avezzano program

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Dr. Don Panoz is always known for shaking things up, as one of the stalwarts of North American sports car racing over the last 20 years.

Panoz now has planned a two-car entry into Pirelli World Challenge with his new Avezzano program. Ian James, a past Panoz driver, is the first confirmed driver.

This marks the series’ second major former IMSA team coming over today, with Magnus Racing announcing its switch this morning. Panoz had hoped to run the DeltaWing at the Rolex 24 at Daytona for a final outing, having announced it at the same time as the Avezzano was revealed, but later withdrew plans.

The full release is below:

Panoz returns to GT racing in 2017 as Team Panoz Racing, kicking off its first season with Pirelli World Challenge. Led by motorsports veteran Tom Milner, Team Panoz Racing will field a two-car, full-season entry racing the new Panoz Avezzano sports car in the GTS class.

Team Panoz Racing also announced that sports car racer Ian James has been named the first of two team drivers. James will campaign the No. 50 Panoz Avezzano, starting with the St. Petersburg, Fla, race.

Hailing from England but now living in Arizona, James is one of only a handful of race drivers who has won races in the Prototype, GT, Grand Sport and Sport touring classes. James also has a Panoz history, having driven for Tom Milner and PTG Inc. when it fielded the Panoz Esperante in 2009 and the Panoz Abruzzi in 2010 and 2011. Milner, as previously announced, is managing Panoz’s GT race program and development of the Panoz Avezzano race car.

Team Panoz Racing expect to announce its second driver, who will race Panoz Avezzano #51, in the near future.

Panoz experts have been busy this fall/winter developing the Avezzano race car while ramping up production of the Panoz Avezzano street car, Panoz’s first new sports car since the Esperante. The all-carbon fiber race car features a wide-body configuration with clear-coated carbon fiber splitter, side skirts and rear diffuser and GT race car style side exhausts.

The new Avezzano features the next-generation of the Panoz-designed extruded aluminum chassis; a completely new rear suspension design; and an upgraded suspension, brake and wheel package. Powering the Avezzano is a standard 6.2-liter, 450-plus horsepower Panoz/Èlan aluminum block V8 mated to a heavy duty, close ratio six-speed manual transmission. Avezzano street car production is underway, with first customer cars expected this summer.

The team plans to begin testing its new race car in March prior to competing on the streets of St. Petersburg, March 10-12, 2017.

“After a few years of taking a step back from racing, I’m excited to be back and especially with my good friend Don Panoz and his team. Very happy to have Ian join us and we plan on giving the competition a hard time!” Milner said.

“I am very excited to be back behind the wheel of a Panoz race car and entering the exciting World Challenge series. The GTS platform is the wave of the future and I expect the new Avezzano to be a contender,” James added.

MRTI: Juncos signs Carlos Cunha for Pro Mazda campaign

Photo: Juncos Racing
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Juncos Racing continued to bolster its entries in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires by signing Carlos Cunha to pilot a third Juncos Pro Mazda entry for 2018. Cunha, who finished third in the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda season on the back of seven podium finishes, joins Rinus VeeKay and Robert Megennis in Juncos’ Pro Mazda lineup for 2018.

Cunha previously tested with the team at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in October and joined Juncos for the Chris Griffis Memorial test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in November, testing cars for both the Pro Mazda and Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires teams.

“It’s great to become a part of Juncos Racing,” said the 18-year-old Cunha. “I am really excited to start the 2018 season with Juncos Racing. This fall we did some testing together and from there I was able to see how focused everyone on the team is and I even felt like I became a part of their family in no time. I am confident we will get great results together next year and I look forward to learning and growing more with the team. It will be a huge pleasure and also a great responsibility to carry the number one on my car, thanks to (2017 Pro Mazda champion Victor Franzoni) and I hope to deliver it back to the team at the end of the year!”

Team owner Ricardo Juncos added, “We are excited to add Carlos to our Pro Mazda lineup. From the moment we started testing with him in early October, we knew he would be a great fit for our team. Carlos has been very quick in testing and even had an impressive showing in the Indy Lights car at the Chris Griffis test back in October. He had a great run this past season in the Pro Mazda series and we are confident he will carry that momentum into the 2018 season.”

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