Two new recruits for Panis-Barthez Compétition's Ligier LMP2 at Le Mans
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Two new recruits for Panis-Barthez Compétition's Ligier LMP2 at Le Mans

Fabien Barthez, co-founder of the Panis-Barthez Compétition team, will not take the wheel of the #23 Ligier JS P217 in either the 24 Hours of Le Mans or the European Le Mans Series this year. Instead, Timothé Buret will be joined by Le Mans native Julien Canal and British driver Will Stevens.

As announced during the Automobile Club de l'Ouest press conference in early February, Timothé Buret will continue his collaboration with Panis-Barthez Compétition for the third year in a row. The young French driver will share the wheel with two veterans, both previous class winners at the 24 Hours of Le Mans: Julien Canal and Will Stevens.

Julien Canal won the GT class at Le Mans three times for his first three participations before moving up to LMP2 in 2014. After a podium finish at the 24 Hours with G-Drive Racing in 2015, with a Ligier, last season the Le Mans native - a McDonald's restaurant manager during the week and a driver on the weekends - won in the World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC) with the Rebellion Racing team's ORECA.

Like Julien Canal, Will Stevens was also a member of the Russian outfit G-Drive Racing with whom he reached the second step on the 24 Hours of Le Mans podium in 2016 (ORECA), before moving up a spot the following year in LMGTE Am at the wheel of JMW Motorsport's Ferrari 488 GTE.

With a gentleman-driver of Julien Canal's caliber, both reliable and fast, and two young drivers from single-seaters - Timothé Buret, who did not hesitate to cross the Atlantic in 2015, and former F1 driver Will Stevens - there is no doubt the Panis-Barthez Compétition team of Fabien Barthez and Olivier Panis will be a serious contender for victory in the LMP2 class at the 86th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 16th and 17th.

PHOTO (Copyright - ACO): Will Stevens (at left), with his teammate Dries Vanthoor, won the LMGTE Am class at the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans.