Team ORECA Matmut has opted to add Olivier Panis as the third driver for the team's Peugeot 908 HDi FAP for the initial round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup (ILMC)
The former F1 driver, who has been part of Hugues de Chaunac's team since 2008 was confirmed for the first three rounds of the seven round ILMC, taking him through the 12 Hours of Sebring, 1000km of Spa and Le Mans 24 Hours with the team. He will drive alongside Loic Duval and Nicolas Lapierre, thus reforming the trio that drove the diesel Peugeot at Le Mans last year.
“We studied each candidate seriously,” explains de Chaunac. “But Olivier showed so much drive that we agreed to do a test session. It was held last week at the Paul Ricard HTTT circuit and it went perfectly.”
“I must say that I was surprised by his motivation, which goes above and beyond what you would expect. It's an important factor. He performed at the expected level, which is higher this year. Olivier is also a natural leader. Just from his charisma, he is more than just a driver. He was up to speed immediately and he has been an important element in the overall cohesion of the team for several years. He also knows the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP.”
“I was happy to see the team again – there's still that nice atmosphere,” said Panis. “I hadn't driven a prototype since Budapest last August and it was important for me to know where I stand, both in terms of driving and motivation. I'm satisfied with the times I put in and I really enjoyed myself. I'm not ready to retire!”
The trio's first racing will be at the ILMC opener – the 12 Hours of Sebring – later this month.