Driver Spotlight - Fabien Barthez
Even if you are not a football fan, you would have certainly heard of Fabien Barthez. Born in 1971 in France, Barthez was one of the most popular athletes in France and goalkeeper for the French national football team from the early 90s until 2007. Over the span of his remarkable career, Fabien Barthez was rated among the world’s best goalkeepers in the late 1990s and won the World Cup with France in 1998 before moving to Manchester United in 2000. The France national team also won the 2000 Eurocup and Barthez was at the goal, contributing to the success of national team. His skills and determination along with his natural talent for the sport got him high praise from his colleagues and football fans all over the world.
From the football field to the race track
However, even the biggest champions had to retire someday and that is what Barthez did in 2007. Like a lot of other retired top-notch athletes, Barthez missed being at the heart of all the action and soon found a new and interesting arena for his sporting ambitions – the world of motorsport. It is unusual for an ex-football player to switch to the cockpit of a race car, but Barthez did that remarkably well.
Completely different sport, but almost the same level of success
His first motorsport event took place in 2008 when he participated in selected events of Porsche Carrera Cup France driving for the SOFREV Auto Sport Promotion team. For the next few years, Barthez participated in a lot of different events in series such as the French THP Spider Cup, Bioracing Series and the Caterham Sigma Cup France. However, all this led to his involvement in the French GT championship and success on the track. In 2012, Barthez won his first race at the Circuito de Navarra and finished seventh in the championship, but in 2013, he raced French GT Championship full time and won the championship title alongside his teammate Morgan Moullin-Traffort, driving a Ferrari 458 Italia GT3. This was a big success for Barthez and proof that the real sporting ambition of an athlete can put him back on the top, regardless of the sport he is competing in.
Video : Highlight of the 2015 GT Tour with the duo Fabio Barthez and Olivier Panis
In 2014, Barthez participated in the greatest French race of them all – the 24 Hours of Le Mans, again driving a Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 for SOFREV Auto Sport Promotion team. He entered LMGTE Am class and achieved a respectable score – finishing 29th overall and ninth in the class. Even though he is 44 years old, he is still counted as one of France’s best GT3 racers and is a household name in the French GT Championship. It is safe to say that his football career may be over but his motorsport career is just beginning. After seeing him in the Blancpain GT Series in 2015, fans had the chance to see him again at 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2016, where he took the 12th position.