23 july 2017
The Panis-Barthez Compétition team gets its best result in Austria since the beginning
of the ELMS season
After the emotions of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the team was with its two cars on the Red Bull Ring circuit to tackle with the third round of the European Le Mans Series. At the end of the 4 hour-race, the three drivers of the #23 Ligier JS P217 and the team left the track with a kind of satisfaction thanks to the accomplished work. It allowed them to be in third place at a particular moment during the race to finally finish 6th, which means the best result since the beginning of the season.
Bad luck and disappointment for the #16 Ligier JS P3 line-up due to their retirement after only 14 laps on track due to an engine problem.
At the qualifying session on Saturday, Nathanaël Berthon set a very good lap time in 1.19:605 and brought the #23 Ligier JS P217 – Gibson on the second row of the grid. It is the best qualification of Panis-Barthez Compétition team this year.
On Sunday, Timothé Buret had a very good start and gained one place at the first corner. Third, he resisted to the experimented driver, Nicolas Lapierre, behind him for ten laps. Then, Timothé was the first one to refuel and went back 6th on track, place he kept all throughout his second stint.
Fabien Barthez handed over him without making any mistakes, which allowed him to give the steering wheel to Nathanaël Berthon in 8th place. This latter set very fast lap times, being regularly among the four quickest drivers on track, and succeeded in catching the cars ahead of him. He overtook his opponents one by one, gained five places, getting the car in third place. Fabien Barthez took the steering wheel again to end the race. When he was back on track, he had to fight against professional drivers but succeeded in crossing the finish line 6th. In fact, the car will be ranked 5th because there has been a time penalty afflicted to a competitor.
Nathanaël Berthon - LMP2 driver - #23 Ligier JS P217 : “I think I did an excellent lap in the qualifying session, the car was really good. Since the free practices, we have worked a lot, going in the right direction. In race, we had a good role to play, we finished 6th which is the best result of the team this year. I think we will keep ramping up at the three next rounds and climb on a podium. Anyway, I really would like to thank the whole team.”
Timothé Buret - LMP2 driver - #23 Ligier JS P217 : "I succeeded in gaining one place at the start, kept being third for several laps and fought well against Nicolas (Lapierre). Then I kept on pushing every lap, I couldn’t drive faster all throughout my two stints, it was quite hard physically but I enjoyed a lot. I am satisfied with my two stints and my faultless race. I look forward to being at Le Castellet next month!”
Olivier Panis - Team-Principal : " Nathanaël did a great qualifying, he set the fourth fastest time, he really did a great job. Regarding the LMP3, Simon (Gachet) also did a great performance, putting the car 5th. I think he could do a little bit better, but he had too much understeering.
During the race, we had a technical issue on the LMP3 (#16) with an engine failure. About the LMP2, a problem with the fuel pump bothered us since the start of the race. It forced us to stop three laps before the other competitors, which gained a fourth or fifth place away from us.
The two line-ups have been very consistent and quick all throughout the weekend. I would like to congratulate Nathanaël who did a great job throughout this weekend.
If they go on being as quick and consistent in the next meetings, it will end up paying, I am confident in them."