Tech 1 Racing and Panis-Barthez Compétition will replace Emil Frey Racing as the European flag carriers for the Lexus RC F GT3 race programme in 2019.
The team will enter both the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup and Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe (previously the Blancpain Sprint Cup).
The Lexus Programme will be an additional effort, adding to the combined team’s current operations in Formula Renault and the European Le Mans Series.
The drivers will be announced between now and the official pre-season test days on 13-14 March on the Circuit Paul Ricard.
In Emil Frey Racing’s hands, the 5.4 litre V8 powered RC F GT3 saw its first Blancpain podium at Silverstone last season, followed by a first race win in the 6 Hours of Paul Ricard.
“Tech 1 Racing and Panis-Barthez Competition are delighted to join the Blancpain racing family,” says a very happy Simon Abadie, the Tech 1 Racing and Panis-Barthez Compétition team manager. “We’re well aware of the size of the challenge that awaits us. We’re going to discover one of the premier, most competitive categories in the world and we have to get to grips with our new car, a new tyre manufacturer and new rivals. But I know just how combative my team is and we’ll do everything in our power to make our colours and those of Lexus shine!”
“It’s both a source of pride and honour to begin this adventure with a manufacturer like Lexus. It represents a huge step forward for the whole team and I’d like to say a particular thank you to Loic David, the manager of the Lexus GT3 programme in Europe, Olivier Naus, the Lexus Brand, Events & Motorsport manager and Noritoshi Arai, the technical director in charge of Toyota Motorsport GmbH coordination. We’ll do our utmost to be equal to their confidence in this new challenge that the team can’t wait to tackle!”
Panis Barthez co-owner Olivier Panis, of course, has a prior relationship with the motorsport arm of Lexus parent company Toyota having raced in F1 for the factory team in 2003 and 2004.