Panis-Barthez competition has completed their driver line-up for the #23 Ligier LMP2 in the upcoming ELMS season.
Julien Canal and Will Stevens will be joined by Rene Binder in the 2019 European Le Mans Series and their bid for an entry in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. A strong and experienced line-up for the French team, which goes into its third season in the LMP2 class with a clear goal: win races and compete for the overall championship.
Binder is the new face in the team, making his debut in prototype and endurance racing. The 26 year old silver driver has vast experience in Indycar (6 races in 2018), GP2 Series and Formula V8 3.5 (2 polo positions & 4 wins). The Austrian will also be racing in the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup starting with the 24 Hours of Daytona later this month. He will drive the Juncos Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R.
Will Stevens returns to the team after a succesfull first season in the LMP2 class. The former Formula 1 driver has shown all his talent on track throughout the past season by climbing twice on the podium and signing a pole position on the wet in Spa.
Julien Canal is the final driver to be announced in the #23 Ligier JSP2, now also in his second season for the team. The Frenchman has an impressive track record with 3 wins at 24H of Le Mans, GTE AM and LMP2 World Champion in WEC with Rebellion.
A second Ligier will be entered in the European Le Mans Series. An announcement with the identity of the drivers for the second car is expected in due course.
Rene Binder – #23 Ligier JS P217 driver :”It’s a huge pleasure and honour for me to race for Panis Barthez Competition in the 2019 season and I want to thank Olivier Panis, Fabien Barthez, Sarah et Simon Abadie and the entire team for their faith in me. It’s going to be really special to go into the European Le Mans Series and 24 Hours at Le Mans with the team of a former Monaco Grand Prix winner and I can’t wait to take the Ligier LMP2 out for our first test. As said before it will be a very important and special experience for me to compete in the most important endurance events next year combining IMSA with ELMS. I can only say thanks again to our sponsors, partners, family and to everyone who believes in our success.“
Will Stevens – #23 Ligier JS P217 driver : “I’m very happy to stay with Panis-Barthez Competition next season. We showed in 2018 how strong we are together, and the great results we had at the end of the season motivated me to stay: we have a job to continue and to finish. After a pole position and two podiums last year, we will be doing all we can to win our first race in 2019 – and then another one. And if we are consistent enough, why not fight for the 2019 championship?
Of course, I have Le Mans in mind, as we were the closest competitors to G-Drive last year. I can’t wait to race there again with Olivier, Simon, Sarah and all the team who have faith in me and give me so much confidence. It’s time to pay them back for what they bring to me. I don’t know Rene Binder, my new teammate, but I can see that he has always been competitive wherever he raced: in F3, in Renault 3.5, GP2 or IndyCar. He has quite a lot of experience as well and I have no doubt we will get along well and be a very strong line-up in 2019.”
Julien Canal – #23 Ligier JS P217 driver: “After a two-month winter break, I was in touch with some endurance actors in order to find the most suitable sporting program in parallel with my professional activities. But looking at what we achieved last year with the team of Olivier Panis and Simon Abadie, taking into account the progress we made through the end, it was obvious that carrying on with PBC was the best option. So I’m very happy to be back with the Panis-Barthez Competition. My motivation and my desire to give my best for the guys, for my teammates and for the brand are very strong. With Will and Rene we have only one goal: winning.”
Olivier Panis – Team Principal: “Sarah, Simon and I are delighted to welcome Rene at Panis Barthez Compétition. Rene already has a strong background in different series and we are ready to write a new page of our history with him. Thanks to the hard work of the team and our 2018 drivers, we are in a good position to fight at the front. Welcome in the family Rene !”
“Keeping Will Stevens aboard was a top priority. I have been so impressed by him, his speed and his implication. I have rarely seen a professional driver sharing so many informations with his teammates. He spends hours in front of the datas to improve the car. It’s true he grumbles quite a lot but always in a positive way. First of all it makes me laugh but above all it pushes us continuously to make our proto faster and faster. We have made a big step forward with him. That’s why Fabien Barthez, Simon Abadie, Sarah Abadie and I did everything we could to make him stay at PBC and we have found partners to achieve this priority.”
“Keeping Julien Canal among us is very good news for the whole team. His maturity and his experience are well proven, and last year it united us around new strong goals. His close relation with Will Stevens is now strengthened by the determination of Rene Binder. All together, they are going to do wonderful things on track. That’s clearly a high-powered line-up, ready to fight at the top of the LMP2 category.”