ELMS - 13/03/2017 - Press release - Panis-Barthez Competition
Olivier Panis - Team Principal : “I am very happy to start our program. Last year, for our first participation, we collected numerous technical and sports data that allow us to approach this season with more confidence. We have worked to have complementary and homogeneous line-ups once again. The arrival of the new Ligier JS P217 in LM P2 is going to make us reach a turning point in terms of technical and physical performance. It will also require a higher level of driving. That is why we wished to have a driver with a solid experience in Endurance by Fabien and Timothé’s sides and Nathanaël Berthon meets this requirement. During his seasons spent in ELMS, FIA WEC and at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, he showed his ability to be a fast driver, being often amongst the front-runners. Combined with Fabien Barthez’s rigour and Timothé’s skills, it will allow us to have a strong line-up.
The duo Eric Debard and Simon Gachet in LM P3 worked perfectly last season. They learned from their experience to gain a good cohesion in race conditions. Following on from our development of young drivers, we have hired Theo Bean. He was noticed across the Atlantic in Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, Toyota Racing Series and also showed us promising skills in private sessions.
I am proud to share this adventure with this solid technical team in the hands of Sarah and Simon Abadie, the team managers. I know I can rely on my two pillars, Fabien Barthez and Eric Debard, who are references for the upcoming generation. We are also happy to have Timothé Buret and Simon Gachet again; they have known how to capitalize their experience gained in 2016 by our sides".
Nathanaël Berthon - LMP2 driver : "I am delighted to integrate the Panis-Barthez Compétition family and I would like to thank Olivier Panis and the staff for their confidence. I am going to give everything to share my experience in endurance. I know we will have to work hard to rise up this challenge and more particularly with this new Ligier JS P217 we have to learn to tame. Having Fabien Barthez as teammate is rewarding thanks to his career as a top-level athlete and his capacity to federate the team. Last season, Timothé Buret showed great skills with a will to improve and a great mentality. This good atmosphere within the team and the cohesion between team-mates is essential and we are going to make every possible effort to fight amongst the front-runners with a meticulous technical team.”
Fabien Barthez - LMP2 driver : " It is a real pleasure to start this second season with the team. I am delighted to have Timothé with whom I shared the car last year. I also thank Nathanaël Berthon for trusting us in this project and being our leader. I look forward to being at the wheel of this great new Ligier JS P217 which promises us beautiful sensations. Our DNA remains unchanged: make the youngest drivers improve in order to give them access to the highest level of endurance. We keep the same family state of mind where pleasure and sharing dominate. I would like to thank our faithful partners and those who join us this year, for their confidence in this beautiful adventure".
Timothé Buret - LMP2 driver : "I am really happy to start a new season with Panis-Barthez Compétition with whom I learnt a lot last year. It is the first time I have the opportunity to spend two seasons in a row in the same team. It gives me more confidence with the same will to offer the best of my work. It is very reassuring to team up with Fabien who shares his experience as a top-level athlete. The arrival of Nathanaël, who is a fast driver with a great mentality, comforts me even more in the idea that we are a line-up which will know how to be solid, with a great determination, to fight amongst the frontrunners."
Eric Debard - LMP3 driver : « My motivation to restart with the team this year is motivated only because I am part of a friends’ team. This human adventure is the driving force to last. By sharing the car with young drivers who are half my age, it allows me not to stop the meter by keeping the same spirit of competition as them. I am happy to get back to Simon Gachet with whom I had a great complicity last season. He is a very talented driver. I met my new teammate during private sessions and we understood he promises to do great things. It is the first time I will team up with a non-European driver and, even if I do not speak English very well, language barriers fell quickly and we were able to exchange through the common passion of sport car racing that unites us.”
Simon Gachet - LMP3 driver : “To restart with the team was an avowed will at the end of last season and I am happy that it becomes a reality. I would like to thank the team for their renewed confidence. Our first year allowed us to gather technical and sports data. It is going to help us to comprehend the races with fewer unknowns but always with a great rigour in the work with the team and my teammates. To team up with Eric Debard again is an extra pleasure; he knows how to associate seriousness in sports and good mood in the paddock. Theo Bean’s first laps in private sessions have given us confidence in his capacity to drive fast. The feeling between us was immediate good and I am looking forward to being with everybody at the Official Tests at Monza.”
Theo Bean - LMP3 driver : “It is obviously a dream for me to drive in Europe. During the tests, I could feel a lot of passion within the team. I had a warm welcome from the staff and my new teammates. I have loved driving the Ligier JS P3, it is rather powerful, with a lot of downforce. Being able to race on these famous tracks is just awesome for me because I only know them through video games. Everything is new but I feel confident in this team. I am looking forward to competing in European Le Mans Series.”
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