by Russell Atkins

TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL: CLICK HERE

As an advisor to A1 Team France's 2007/08 World Cup of Motorsport title bid, erstwhile Formula 1 star Olivier Panis has helped to preside over no fewer than seven podium finishes and the nation's first victory in almost two years as les bleus sit second in the championship chase with three rounds remaining.

The architect of those results has almost without fail been Lo?c Duval, a driver whom Panis well acknowledges is the squad's prize asset, but equally one who confessed after the latest meeting in Durban three weeks ago to having begun his last race for the French outfit in 2007/08. The former Monaco Grand Prix winner and new ORECA-MATMUT sportscar ace told Crash.net Radio, however, that he is hoping his young charge may yet be open to persuasion...

Q:
Olivier, as sporting director of A1 Team France, how pleased are you with how the team has done so far during the 2007/08 World Cup of Motorsport campaign?

Olivier Panis:
I'm really pleased because the French team is doing really well. For sure I have had a big racing programme over the winter time with the Troph?e Andros and now the Le Mans Series too, but I want to help A1 Team France as well.

I feel a good ambience with them, we're second in the championship at the moment and we will work hard to try to win the championship. That's very important for the French team and for [team owner and manager] Jean-Paul Driot, and I will be there at the last two meetings to help them.

Q:
Before the last outing in South Africa, there were five nations at the top of the championship table. Now it seems it may be between just France, New Zealand and Switzerland; how tough do you think that battle will be?

OP:
Both teams [Switzerland and New Zealand] are doing pretty well. [Neel] Jani is doing a pretty good job, but Lo?c Duval is pretty quick too. It's a very challenging series, the fight is at a really high level and mistakes are easy to make. Now we need to be focussed on the car to give the driver the most confidence we can in the equipment, make as few mistakes as possible and win the championship.

Q:
Lo?c said at the time that the South African feature outing was his last race in A1GP this season; is there any indication as to who will be racing for the rest of the campaign?

OP:
I really hope not; I feel very good about him, he's doing a really good job and he's really fast. I hope we can convince him to race again, otherwise we will need to find the best driver we can to finish the championship.

We have Nicolas Prost who is going better and better; maybe we will put him in for a race at the end of the season depending upon where we are. We have a few drivers who would do well, so we have to wait and see what Lo?c decides.

TO HEAR THE INTERVIEW IN FULL: CLICK HERE

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