Timothé Buret (Ligier): Le Mans "is the temple of motorsports..."
Timothé Buret competed in his first 24 Hours of Le Mans in June with the French team Panis-Barthez Compétition. The young 21-year-old driver, who also participated in the European Le Mans Series in the #23 Ligier JS P2 with Paul Loup Chatin and Fabien Barthez, shares his thoughts and looks to 2017.
What do you think of your 2016 season?
"I am happy with my year and the work I was able to do with the team. They knew how to help me relax right from the first races and gave me invaluable advice. I was able to familiarize myself with many types of tracks (abrasive, non-abrasive, wet, dry, Ed.) and garner experience at new circuits since I'd only known two, the Circuit Paul Ricard (France, Ed.) and Estoril (Portugal. Ed.). So my 2016 season was a fantastic experience for me and I'm thrilled."
In 2014, you raced in V de V (championship of endurance and sprint races for modern and vintage cars), then the next year in the U.S. in the Pro Mazda Championship (single-seater promotional formula in North America). How was your experience going between those two worlds and the European Le Mans Series ?
"What I experienced in the ELMS is closer to my experience in V de V because American circuits are quite different from the ones you find in Europe. Changing the class of the car was definitely the most important for me. It was a big step given that LM P2s are very pointed cars (carbon brakes, increased aerodynamics, Ed.), with a great deal of technology on board (traction, Ed.). It was a real challenge to adapt to the car and I'm happy I succeeded. I think I understand the car well now and it showed in my times toward the end of the season."
You participated in a legendary race for this first time this year. How did your first 24 Hours of Le Mans go?
"It went well, it was a wild experience. Of course it's the biggest race I've done in my life. The team is happy with the result (eighth in LM P2, Ed.), especially for my first year. It really affected me, there's no doubt. I will never forget that week, it's such a special atmosphere, particularly the finish and the flooding of pit lane, and the crowds in the grandstands and bleachers! You feel like you're in the middle of an arena, it's the temple of motorsports, it's magical."
When you did your first lap during Test Day, how did you feel?
"It made an impression, the circuit is very long and has legendary spots like the Porsche Curves and the Dunlop chicane. The first lap, I just savored it, I tried to let it sink in I was really at the 24 Hours of Le Mans."
On a personal level, in what areas do you want to make progress given that you are still a young driver?
"I improved a lot in my driving skills and my own high-level sports management. I need to continue to work on my driving and especially gain experience. That's by driving the car! That's the only thing that will help my progress in races, and my choices during races and outside of them."
"My goal is to be a professional driver spending a second year with the Panis-Barthez Compétition team."
What will you be doing next year?
"I took a big personal step this year when I moved from Montpellier to Toulouse to be closer to the team. So I'm hoping to continue with them. I am in talks with the team owners, but for now nothing is finalized. I made so much progress this year and I hope to take advantage of everything I learned. So going into a second year, I still need to improve. I want to have the opportunity to stay because I have yet in my career to spend two years in a row with the same outfit and in the same class. My goal is to be a professional driver spending a second year with the Panis-Barthez Compétition team."
Will you be participating once again in the 24 Hours of Le Mans?
"Not every driver is given the chance to do the 24 Hours of Le Mans twice in their life, some have only done it once. I would like to participate again, I will certainly approach it differently now using the experience I gained in 2016. Don't forget, this season, in terms of Le Mans and the ELMS, I started learning everything at the same time (the car, the circuits, the team dynamic, etc., Ed.)."
The competitor exploits, shocking twists and caliber of racing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans between 1932 and 2012 have all made it one of the most legendary races in history. As we await the 2022 running on 11-12 June, enjoy this retrospective from 1972.
FIA WEC – Toyota takes the TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps
Kamui Kobayashi, José María López and Mike Conway triumphed at the TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps after a breathtaking race in the rain this weekend. As always, Toyota will be one to watch at the 90th 24 Hours of Le Mans in a few short weeks.