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Sunday 25 February 2018

World Cup winner Fabian Barthez set to compete in his first Le Mans 24 Hours

World Cup-winning goalkeeper Fabian Barthez will face one of the biggest challenges of his career this weekend when he swaps his goalkeeping gloves for driving gloves to compete in his first Le Mans 24 Hours.

The former Manchester United star is part of the driver line-up for the No 58 Team Sofrev Asp Ferrari 458 that will compete in the GTE-Am class alongside Anthony Pons and Soheil Ayari in an all-French trio.

Having won the French GT championship last season after turning his commitments to morot racing, the 42-year-old will step-up to tackle one of the most challenging races in the world, as teams compete 24 hours round the clock to conquer the Circuit de la Sarthe.

Barthez won the Prmeier League twice with United in 2000-01 and 2002-03, as well as winning the Champions League in 1992-93 with Marseille and Ligue 1 twice with Monaco in 1996-97 and 1999-2000.

But his career defining moments – on the pitch at least – was featuring in both the 1998 World Cup and 2000 European Championship successes for France.

The dangers that Barthez faces became all too clear in the build-up to Saturday’s race, with no fewer than seven red flags hindering practice and qualifying. The biggest accident was that suffered by the No 1 Audi, when Loic Duval mysteriously hit the wall as high speed in the Porsche Curves.

Duval was lucky to escape with his life, let alone without serious injury, but medics decided that he would not be allowed to compete in the car of the reigning champions. Former GP2 driver James Calado has also been ruled out of competing after his Ferrari 458 went off in the same section of the track. The Briton suffered a suspected concussion, but has tweeted that he is alright and will be back behind the wheel as soon as he can.

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