A few weeks after the 24 Hours of Le Mans under the Panis-Barthez Competition banner, Tech 1 Racing is tackling another monument of motor sport, the Total 24 Hours of Spa.
In exactly a month day for day, more than 60 GT3s will do battle on the Belgian roller-coaster in the heart of the Belgian Ardennes. Among them will be the black, white and orange Lexus RC F GT3 run by the French team with four drivers who are far from being novices in the event.
Fabien Barthez will be the team’s anchor man, a role he has filled since Tech 1 Racing first ventured into the Blancpain Series Endurance Cup. The former international goal keeper is hoping to shine in an event in which he finished on the podium in Pro-Am on his first outing in the race in 2012 before coming back twice in 2014 and 2018.
On his fourth outing in the Total 24 Hours of Spa Barthez will be backed up by Bernard Delhez. The Belgian will be racing on home turf and he will put all his experience at the team’s disposal on his seventh consecutive participation since his debut in 2013. Last year he finished second in the Am Cup, the category which Tech 1 Racing has entered this season.
After joining up with Barthez-Delhez for the Paul Ricard 1000 km on the Paul Ricard circuit, the experienced Eric Cayrolle will pursue the adventure in this iconic race. The driver from Pau is also familiar with this event which he discovered in the FIA GT Championship in 2004. He was fifth the following year, and also started the 24 Hours in 2011 and 2015.
Completing the driver line-up will be a guy who knows the Toulouse outfit very well - and vice versa - Timothé Buret.
The man from Montpellier aged 24 made a name for himself on his debut in karting after which he built up solid technical experience in various branches of the sport including battling for the title in Pro Mazda. After joining Panis-Barthez-Competition in the European Le Mans Series and winning the Jean Rondeau prize awarded to the best French hope in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2016, Buret has remained faithful to the French outfit in which he is now one of the benchmarks.
The youngest driver in the team will be an even bigger asset for Tech 1 Racing as he combines outright speed and experience because of his status as a Silver driver and his participation in the Belgian classic in 2016. His all-round skills acquired in the early stages of his career should help him to adapt to the Lexus RC F GT3 just as he did to Simon and Sarah Abadie’s team in LM P2 three years ago.
On Tuesday he will join Tech 1 Racing and his three team-mates for the test days before a hectic month culminating in the greatest GT race in the world on Saturday and Sunday 27-28 July.
Timothé Buret: “I’m really happy to be living the 24 Hours of Spa adventure with the Tech 1 Racing family which I know so well, and with which I’ve been collaborating in the ELMS for four years. In 2016, I wasn’t fortunate enough to see the chequered flag in a Ferrari. This time in such excellent conditions I’m determined to do everything to drive a good race and see the finish in the highest possible position with my three team-mates. Racing the Lexus will be an incredible new experience without taking into account the joy of being back with Fabien (Barthez) with whom I really love driving.”
Simon Abadie: “We’re delighted to bring back Timothé to complete this solid quick driver line-up. We know all his qualities and his outright speed and he will slot in naturally as he knows us so well. Our four drivers’ experience will be a precious asset as we pursue our learning curve in the Total 24 Hours of Spa. Our aim is to be at the finish without making the slightest mistake. If we manage to do that over such a long race that usually has so many ups and downs, we shouldn’t be too far off the highest step of the podium and bag a big haul of points awarded after 6, 12 and 24 hours. Obviously, we’ll be facing some new discoveries, but our team doing the Blancpain GT Series will be joined by some of our guys from the P2 squad to prepare for this event really well. It’ll allow us to tackle the race in the best possible conditions and start working from next week onwards in the areas where we still have to progress. So we’ll all be working hand in hand sharing all our strengths to achieve our objectives.”
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