16 april 2017
A complex but helpful race
The Panis-Barthez Compétition team started its second season in European Le Mans Series at the opening round on the Silverstone Circuit. Olivier Panis, team principal, Sarah and Simon Abadie, Team-Managers, enter two cars : a LMP2 with Nathanaël Berthon, Fabien Barthez and Timothé Buret at the steering wheel of the #23 Ligier JS P217 and a LMP3 for Simon Gachet, Eric Debard and Théo Bean on the #16 Ligier JS P3. Despite a good performance on track, the race was quite complicated for the two cars. They both finished 9th in each category.
Starting from the 4th row of the grid, Nathanaël Berthon at the steeering wheel of the #23 Ligier JS P217, succeeded in keeping his place until he had a transponder issue. He was forced to go back to the pits in the first quarter of the race which made him lose more than seven minutes (3 laps). Then, Fabien Barthez, Nathanaël again, and Timothé Buret did not give up and managed to catch up 24 cars, setting the same lap times as the leader. Without this incident, their performance would have placed them on the podium but they will try to climb up on the next one at Monza next month.
Simon Gachet at the steering wheel of the #16 Ligier JS P3 set the car in the fourth place on Friday. Unfortunately, after few minutes, a LM P2 car forced him to go out of the track which made him come down to the 10th position. His two team mates did a great race without making any mistake with consistency and a good pace which enable them to be optimistic for the rest of the ELMS season.
Despite this disappointing result, the team is nevertheless satisfied with getting some helpful information to tackle the next round in Italy.
Olivier Panis – Team-Principal : "The whole team did its best and worked well but, because of the transponder, we missed out on a race in LMP2 which could have been superb. I am proud our three drivers in LMP2 did not give up despite the breakdown. Nathanaël Berthon, who has just joined the team, started to take his marks and the other two have been capitalizing from last season. Fabien showed his management of the traffic and his good performance with used tyres. Regarding Timothé, he did a great job all throughout his run. The lap times of the line-up and the consistency of the Michelin tyres all throughout the race let glimpse good things for the rest of the season despite our obvious frustration at Silverstone. About the LMP3, it is a shame Simon had his incident at the beginning of the race. He lost six places but, afterwards, he showed his top speed, Eric was consistent and Theo, who is a rookie in this championship, was on his game and did not stop improving all throughout the days. He did not give in to stress and complete well this line up which is promising."
Nathanaël Berthon – LMP2 driver – #23 Ligier JS P217: "It is a real pleasure to be part of this team with such a good atmosphere. We started a bit far because we did not have a good qualifying session but, afterwards, we showed we could reverse the trend in terms of performance during the race. It is a shame we had a technical issue because we had the means to fight among the front runners. My team mates did a fantastic job which is a good omen for our line-up for the rest of the season."
Fabien Barthez –LMP2 driver – #23 Ligier JS P217: "I enjoyed myself a lot during my stint; I was careful from the start to the end and was always optimistic, trying to forget this issue with the transponder. I have kept a lot of positive things in mind from this week-end, the spirit is there and we are motivated to go on improving: our trio is strong."
Timothé Buret –LMP2 driver – #23 Ligier JS P217: "Starting from this position which did not reflect our level of performance, I put the frustration aside and tried to enjoy and improve. The good set-up of the car allowed me to enjoy myself and not to have a knife in my throat during the race. I could express myself in the middle of the LM P2 pack and clocked good lap times, similar to those of the leaders. I felt at ease all throughout the weekend with a good package, good tyres and we have built good foundations before Monza."