Since Tech 1 Racing announced its arrival in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup and the Blancpain GT World Endurance Challenge Europe, the team’s workshops have been a hive of activity.
With 15 days to go to the official test sessions, the Toulouse team’s entry has firmed up with the confirmation of Fabien Barthez as the leader of the trio whose job it will be to defend the Lexus RC F GT3’s chances in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup.
The man from the Ariège department learned the ropes in the Porsche Carrera Cup France and several single-make championships, also in France. He soon made a name for himself in the FFSA French GT Championship. Barthez won the Gentleman’s Trophy in 2011 and in 2013 he clinched the title in the FFSA GT Championship before adding a teams’ title to his laurels in 2015.
In parallel, the former French international came third in the Pro-Am category on his maiden outing in the Total 24 Hours of Spa in 2012. He also won twice in the gentlemen’s category in the FIA GT Series and saw the flag in ninth place in GTE Am on his first outing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2014. He did even better two years later by finishing eighth in LM P2 with Panis-Barthez Compétition.
Last year, Barthez returned to the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup and won the Am Cup on his return at Monza. He scored three more podium finishes and came third in his category. He now hopes to capitalise on his experience and his promising results when he has his first taste of the Lexus RC F GT3.
“It makes sense to go back to Panis-Barthez Compétition and Tech 1 Racing just when the team is taking up a new challenge with the Lexus RC F GT3,” says Fabien Barthez. “It’s almost four years since we launched the Panis-Barthez Compétition project. I know the team by heart and its DNA is still there so it’s only logical and natural to tackle this season in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup together after a year off in LMP2 on my side. I think our aims will be similar to those on our debut in LMP2. Despite its experience the team will be finding its feet in a new championship. The aim will be to really enjoy ourselves, which I’m sure we will, because that too is an integral part of our ADN. We’ll take the races as they come to accumulate experience with this car. We can also count on Olivier’s presence during all the race weekends on the calendar. So Olivier, Simon, Sarah, the whole team and I are starting another big adventure!”
“We’re very happy to be able to count on Fabien just when we’re taking up this new challenge,” says a delighted Sarah Abadie, the Tech 1 Racing team manager. “With his career in GT racing including three starts in the Total 24 Hours of Spa, he is an experienced driver whose professionalism will be a big help to us in our first steps in this branch of motor sport. We’re hoping to finalise the driver line-up in the near future that’ll be built up around him in the Am Cup for the whole season in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup. In parallel, we’re hard at work putting together the Silver crew we want to enter in the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe. Our aim is very clear - to have two cars at the start of the Total 24 Hours of Spa this coming July.”
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