2021 ORECA 07 #65 Pilots: J. Allen, J. Canal, W. Stevens Team: Panis Racing Race: 8th overall (third in LMP2 class) at Le Mans in 2021 Spark - S8255 (resin)
As an adolescent, Olivier Panis started racing karts in 1981. He moved on to Formula Renault and then to Formula 3000. In 1994 he graduated to Formula 1, driving for Ligier. He drove for other F1 teams until 2006, when he announced his retirement from F1 racing. However, that was not the end of his driving career. By 2008 he shifted to endurance racing, racing at Le Mans and even winning the Sebring 12 Hours. In 2016, together with brothers Simon and Sarah Abadie from Tech1 racing, they founded Panis Barthez Competition. The team’s focus was LMP2 and LMP3 endurance racing in the European and Asian Le Mans series. And most of all, they wanted to compete in the 24 Heures du Mans.
Panis Barthez Competition debuted at La Sarthe in 2016, fielding a Ligier JS P2, in the LMP2 class (they finished in 12th). They kept on racing and in 2020 the team suffered some structural changes, and it was renamed Panis Racing. Moreover, they switched from the Ligier JS P2 to the ORECA 07 as their workhorse for LMP2. With the new car, they achieved their best result yet: seventh place overall, and third in LMP2. With a podium finish in 2020, for the following year the expectations were high. To the point that they wanted a special livery for their ORECA 07 #65. And if you want a special livery for Le Mans, you need an art car livery.
So Panis racing, together with PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports, approached French artist Laurent Minguet. He first painted a picture of each car, and made reproductions of these pictures. These were sold to gather funds for the Mécénat Chirurgie Cardiaque, a French NGO that treats children with cardiac diseases. With the art ready, thin vinyl sheets were printed and applied over the carbon fiber bodywork of the cars. Though not common, this was not the first time an artist was responsible for the livery on two cars at Le Mans. However, this was the first time the same artist is responsible for the livery of competing teams. Though with complementary liveries, ORECA 07 #65 had better luck than the #24 sister car. It finished the race in eight place overall and third in class. Therefore, artsy AND fast.
Last week I showed #24, and today I finished the tale of the most recent art cars at La Sarthe. Though I love art cars, I almost missed these two 😮! Since I focus on overall and class winners, both slipped under my radar. Last year, after an Instagram post on my 917/30 #0 where somebody “corrected” me saying it was a 917/20 (🤨), I did some further research on the Pink Pig. That led me to art cars, and accidentally I discovered this #65. And to my surprise, I found out that it had a sister art car in the race!
That being so, both became automatic must buys. Moreover, they’re both beautiful pieces from Spark so overall a very nice buy. Being art cars, I suspect these two will soon get scarce. So if you’re in the art car business, don’t snooze.