Interview with Panis-Barthez Competition Team Principal Olivier Panis
The big news before the European Le Mans Series Silverstone round is one of the Panis-Barthez Competition car switching from Ligier JS P217 to the ORECA 07 chassis. It only concerns the #23 driven by René Binder, Julien Canal and Will Stevens.
Timothé Buret, Leonard Hoogenboom and Konstantin Tereschenko will carry on aboard the Ligier JS P217 #24.
During his visit at ORECA, Panis-Barthez Competition Team Principal Olivier Panis said :
"At one point, it was clear the ORECA 07 stands out," said OIivier Panis. "I have nothing against Ligier but regarding our partners and drivers, we should go for it. I called Pierre Nicolet, who is someone intelligent and understood the situation. When something can jeopardise the operation and development of a team, decisions must be taken. Today it’s was impossible to beat the ORECA 07 on the track. "
Following this change and the one of United Autosports, there are only four Ligier JS P217 remaining on the European scene. "We can only regret that the LMP2 category becomes monotypic, but ORECA has nothing to do with it," added Olivier Panis.
At Silverstone, Panis-Barthez Competition will therefore align an ORECA 07 and a Ligier JS P217. Olivier Panis does not put an end to his collaboration with Ligier Automotive: "We have three Ligiers, which is significant in terms of financial investment. I'm not saying that the relationship with Ligier will stop. If Panis-Barthez Competition can do something with them, we will do it. ORECA has a long experience, Ligier Automotive does not yet have. This experience doesn’t come overnight. "
Of course the legislator could always issue a BOP and regulate performances of the different chassis. Something Olivier Panis does not wish: "I don’t know who could be supportive of a BOP. Is the future to keep the current chassis with just a new aero kit? It would be ideal for the teams to keep the chassis we have with a change in terms of the aero. Would Ligier agree with that? All teams made substantial investments. Gérard Neveu, Pierre Fillon and the ACO are aware of this, and I hope that everything will be taken into account. "
The French team plans to run the Ligier chassis in Asia: "The whole team loved the Asian Le Mans Series experience with the Lahaye brothers and François Heriau. Everyone in the championship runs Michelin tyres and I think the Ligier could play his cards well. The plan is to enter a JS P2 in Am and a JS P217. We will see according to the proposals we receive. We had a fantastic experience last season.” The French team also keeps in mind a participation in the 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring in 2020.
In the future, Panis-Barthez Competition hopes to keep its structure around Will Stevens and Timothé Buret: "I have a lot of respect for Will and Tim who are the pillars of the team. In my opinion, Will is underestimated. If I were a manufacturer, I would sign him straight away both for its performance and human side. He astonishes me over the time he spends with his teammates. It is clear that our main goal is to keep both of them next season. "
After racing Michelin tyres, the LMP2 team of Olivier Panis, Sarah and Simon Abadie is now equipped with Dunlop/Goodyear compounds: "Our relationship with Michelin was fantastic because we managed to meet the level of Dunlop. Our development contract with Dunlop/Goodyear is good and I think we made the right choice, with a real technical complicity. A competition between tyre manufacturers is very positive for the sport. "
Once the assembly of the ORECA 07 over, a shakedown should be done at the Paul Ricard before sending the car to Silverstone.
Next race : 4 Hours of Silverstone - 30 & 31 august 2019