25 september 2017
Brilliant drivers despite great frustration at the end of the race
Panis-Barthez Compétition left Spa-Francorchamps with mixed feelings. On the one hand, the team was satisfied with the work carried out but, on the other hand, disappointed for not having crossed the finishing line at a place reflecting drivers’ talent.
In LMP2, Timothé Buret, 7th on the grid at the wheel of the #23 Ligier JS P217, started very well, gaining three places at the first corner and leading the race for most of his stint. Then, when he handed over to Fabien Barthez, a refuelling issue ruined the end of their race and prevented the drivers from stepping on the podium within easy reach. The line-up Berthon/Barthez/Buret had to settle for 9th place.
Olivier Panis – Team - principal: “First, I would like to warmly congratulate the six drivers for their fantastic job all throughout the weekend. I am really sorry for the LMP2 line-up, not rewarded of their efforts because of technical problems. Congratulations to Michelin too for their involvement by our sides all throughout the season and for the growing evolution of their tyres, very efficient last weekend. We would have liked to associate them to a good result at Spa. I am really disappointed not to show some good deserved results. We will now focus on the last round of the season with the firm intention to show the quality of both line-ups’ work.”
Timothé Buret - LMP2 driver- Ligier JS P217 #23: “I had a good start, starting 7th and being 4th at the end of the first lap. In a first time, I succeeded in keeping my place and then I pushed a lot. We managed the safety car periods well regarding our strategy and I took the lead until I went back to the pit to refuel. I am also happy to notice Michelin tyres have improved a lot and that we now have the same degradation as the Dunlop. We succeeded in completing two stints and a half with the same set of tyres, it is really encouraging. I enjoyed myself a lot in the car for nearly two hours and to be first for a while and for the first time of the season has really boosted me. We are going to keep on working hard to prepare for the next round and try to grab our first podium!”
Nathanaël Berthon - LMP2 driver - Ligier JS P217 #23 : “Timothé had a great start and led the race for a long time. There was every reason to be hopeful to step on the podium, especially because the car was better than during free practices and the qualifying session. At one refuelling, an issue made us slip to the 9th place when Fabien took the wheel. It prevented him from doing a great job on track with his usual consistency. When I took the wheel one hour before the chequered flag, I was 10th. The car was really good compared to the others, it allowed me to set some fastest laps during several laps and I finally crossed the finishing line 9th. We are obviously very frustrated not to finish at a better place because all the elements were gathered to be on the podium. The technical staff’s reaction and the improvements have increased throughout the season, especially on the understanding of Michelin tyres, and we have been able to adapt our driving style to save the tyres as much as possible. Our determination is still intact and we are going to do all we can to end the season in Portugal at best.”