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2012 recap: Larbre's No.70 makes its mark on the WEC

24/01/2013 - 22h14


Photo : JEAN MICHEL LE MEUR - DPPI MEDIA -

 

Larbre left its mark on the 2012 season, despite a limited budget, by winning the FIA ​​Endurance Trophy for best team in the LMGTE Am class (see article), a result the No. 70 Corvette C6-ZR1 contributed to greatly with a driving crew that got better and better. When the crew of its 'big sister', the No.50, experienced setbacks, Jean-Philippe Belloc, Christophe Bourret and Philippe Gibon were always on hand to score valuable points in the quest for the trophy.

It all began in 2011 when Christophe Bourret and Philippe Gibon, who both came from the V de V series, let it be known that they wished to participate in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Jack Leconte, team manager, set up a project in partnership with IMSA Performance Matmut and thus Jean-Philippe Belloc, Christophe Bourret and Pascal Gibon were classified second in the LMGTE Am class at Le Mans in a Porsche 997 GT3-RSR.  They went on to finish their season in the VdeV series with a win at Estoril.

Having made the decision to compete in the FIA World Endurance Championship in 2012 Jack Leconte chose, unlike many of his rivals, to make the trip to Sebring for the offseason ALMS test session. The track knowledge was used well, with the quasi-rookie crew able to return to the ‘Old Country’ for the ‘European tour' after taking second place in the category at the 12 Hours of Sebring, the opening round of the FIA World Endurance Championship.

The three friends then reeled off podium finishes in the class right through the season, with the exception of Spa-Francorchamps:  a retirement deprived the team-mates of running time which would let them down in La Sarthe where they had to settle for fifth place in the end.  In the races which followed in the second half of the season, Christophe Bourret and Philippe Gibon proved themselves more and more comfortable behind the wheel and Jean-Philippe Belloc took the liberty of securing class pole position in 6 Hours of Fuji.

Following the exclusion of the sister car at the 6 Hours of Silverstone and in São Paulo, the Corvette bearing No. 70 would score points, respectively, for fifth and second places.  This would allow the team based near the Val de Vienne circuit to maintain its lead in the category and finish the year with its 11th international title, but a first in an FIA World Championship.

"Christophe Bourret and Philippe Gibon took a huge step up coming from the V de V Championship to the FIA WEC ​​where they rubbed shoulders with the best drivers,” explained Jack Leconte. “They got fit over the winter, taking their commitment seriously. They didn’t make any mistakes and raised their level bit by bit, including in qualifying. As for Jean-Philippe Belloc, he was a very good instructor and the Fuji was a great moment.”

The success of this trio, as with the Audi trio who were victorious at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, demonstrates once again that endurance is not just a sport but also a human adventure.

Cécile Bonardel (translated by Fiona Miller)

Photo:  SEBRING INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY (SEBRING, FLORIDA, USA), 12 HOURS OF SEBRING, SATURDAY 17TH MARCH 2012.  

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