Fabien Barthez will embark on a new challenge this season as he spearheads his own team’s assault on the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup.

The legendary French footballer will drive a Lexus RC F GT3 for Panis-Barthez Competition, which will join the category this year in collaboration with the accomplished Tech 1 outfit. The partnership has become the flagship squad for the Lexus brand and will enter both the Endurance Cup and the new Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe.

Barthez will be part of an Am Cup crew at all five Endurance events, the same programme he ran last term with AKKA ASP Team. The Frenchman scored Am victory at Monza and recorded three further podium finishes across the campaign to take third in his class championship.

“It makes sense to go back to Panis-Barthez Competition and Tech 1 Racing just when the team is taking up a new challenge with the Lexus RC F GT3,” commented Barthez.

“It’s almost four years since we launched the Panis-Barthez Competition 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.

“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 DNA. We’ll take the races as they come to accumulate experience with this car.”

Barthez will be joined by two further Bronze-graded drivers for the Am Cup campaign and an additional Silver for the Total 24 Hours of Spa. Team manager Sarah Abadie expressed her satisfaction at having Barthez on board while also laying out the French squad’s broader plans for the year ahead.

“We’re very happy to be able to count on Fabien just when we’re taking up this new challenge. 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 motorsport.

“In the near future we’re hoping to finalise the driver line-up 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.”

The Lexus RC F GT3 was a race winner in the Blancpain GT Series last term, triumphing at Circuit Paul Ricard thanks to Emil Frey Racing. 2019 will represent its second full season of competition in the SRO-managed championship.