Originally scheduled for Lédenon, the FFSA French GT championship season-finale will be held at Circuit Paul Ricard. The meeting in the South of France will see Aurélien Panis team with his father Olivier, who will make his return to competition, in the Toyota GR Supra GT4 entered by Toyota Gazoo Racing France by CMR.
Despite a difficult health situation, motorsport fans will have more than one reason to enjoy the action this weekend thanks to the remarkable work done by the FFSA GT French Championship organisers as the 2020 calendar will include a fifth and final round.
The Toyota Gazoo Racing France by CMR team will head to Circuit Paul Ricard to conclude the Toyota GR Supra GT4’s maiden campaign on the national scene. While the latest generation of the iconic model will aim for the Am category title with Wilfried Cazalbon and César Gazeau in the #66 car, the #30 entry will feature a new duo in Aurélien and Olivier Panis.
A little more than five years after his last race in the FFSA French GT Championship at this very same track, Olivier Panis will make his return to action with a constructor he already represented during his 158 F1 Grands Prix career.
Runner-up in the 2012 FFSA French GT Championship, Olivier Panis will return to an environment he perfectly knows with Aurélien. Together, the Panis duo already won the 2019 Andros Trophy Super Final at the Stade de France, but Olivier and Aurélien are now about to team up for the very first time on a circuit.
Entered in the Silver class, Panis father and son will be able to lend all their experience to the Toyota Gazoo Racing France by CMR team, which continues to develop the version developed and produced by Toyota Motorsport GmbH on the basis of Toyota Gazoo Racing's very first global model.
In addition to their family ties and their racing passion, the former F1 Toyota driver and the Toyota France Ambassador share many other common denominators. Olivier will be reunited with Loïc David, the engineer who led him to victory in the 1996 Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix and now works both with Aurélien and him in the Lexus RC F GT3 programme in the GT World Challenge Europe.
These two natural-born racers will be determined to spring a surprise on a track where they have often excelled. In his GT4 debut last year, Aurélien made steady progress to claim his first podium in the season-finale at Circuit Paul Ricard.Olivier also sprayed the bubbly there in 2012, 2013 and 2014. The track will however offer a small variation since the 3.8 km configuration with the North chicane will be used, but this new challenge is exactly what the Panis family wants!
For his first race weekend behind the wheel of the Toyota GR Supra GT4, Olivier Panis will have two one-hour free-practice sessions to get a feel for the agile and versatile chassis as well as the twin-scroll turbocharged three-litre inline six-cylinder engine churning out 430 horsepower. Aurélien and Olivier will then head to qualifying Saturday morning prior to the two races on Saturday starting at 18h10 and one on Sunday at 02:55 pm.
Olivier Panis: "It's really a great pleasure to put my helmet back on for this GT4 finale behind the wheel of the Toyota Supra and, what's more, to share it with my son. I would like to thank Julien Piguet for lending me his seat and Toyota France for this opportunity. It is a real privilege to live this father/son relationship through this common passion for motorsport and particularly with Toyota with whom I had a very strong bond during my F1 career. At the same time, it is a continuation of our relationship with the group and Lexus with whom I collaborate and with whom Aurélien is the official driver with Tech1 Racing in GT3 in the GT World Challenge Europe.”
Aurélien Panis:"This is an incredible opportunity for me to be my father's teammate again after our victory at the Stade de France in the Andros Trophy! It will be our "first time" on an tarmac circuit and I would like to thank Julien Piguet, with whom I really had a great season, for allowing us to share this finale as a family. We're going to do everything we can to do well with our Toyota Supra, which for its first year in this competition, has never ceased to develop technically. I am very proud to represent Toyota as well as Lexus in GT3 and I want to thank the group for their trust in me.”