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  Pagani Zonda GR

  Article Image gallery (12) Specifications  
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Country of origin:Italy
Produced from:2003 - 2004
Numbers built:2
Designed by:Horacio Pagani
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:Before December 1st, 2004
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Click here to download printer friendly versionFrom time to time small independent companies attempt to introduce a newly designed supercar, with the intention of competing with the best Ferrari and Lamborghini have to offer. Many, like Vector for example, unfortunately fail and are forgotten within a few years after the launch. Pagani stormed onto the supercar scene at the end of the 1990s with their controversially styled and mechanically advanced Zonda C12. This Argentinian-Italian company based near Modena proved to be a rare exception to the 'supercar curse'.

The heart of the Zonda is a carbon-fibre composite monocoque chassis. Although this chassis was one of the car's biggest, it prevented it from racing in its first years of production and racing is where car's of the Zonda stature can really prove their worth. The international racing's governing bodies finally stepped up and allowed carbon fibre chassis in GT-racing at the start of the 2003 season. Although Pagani themselves have not yet started racing program, one of the customers readied a Zonda for the 2003 24 Hours of Le Mans race.

Long time GT-racing team Carsport America was the customer, who formed Carsport Modena to develop and built the race car. Most of the Zonda's features were retained, with the drivetrain being the exception. The AMG derived engine was decreased in size to displace six litres. The gearbox was a Porsche 911 derived unit mounted reversed and upside down. Further modifications include minimal changes to the bodywork to have it comply with the regulations.

In its debut season the Zonda GR, as it was dubbed, was dogged with many problems. Although the car appeared ready for the race, the Zonda GR's outing at Le Mans turned out to be a disaster. Minutes into the race gearbox problems forced the Zonda to visit the pit to retire. Clearly not used to be mounted upside down, the gearbox proved to be the car's achilles heal for the remainder of the season.

Over the 2003/2004 winter, the Zonda was completely revised; the 2004 car only shared the front subframe with the debut variant. Most importantly the gearbox was replaced by the commonly used and well proven Xtrac unit. The engine was increased in size and displaced just under 7 litres. To prevent the 2003 debacle from happening again, the drivetrain was tested for well over 24 hours on a test-bench prior to the Le Mans test days in April 2004.

Entered by Force One Racing, the Zonda covered 18 laps in the 8 hour Le Mans preliminaries test session. It is pictured here at the Le Mans preliminaries.

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  Article Image gallery (12) Specifications