Larbre Competition seals third successive Le Mans 24 Hours victory
Larbre Competition secured a third successive GTE Am victory at the Le Mans 24 Hours today (June 16/17), confirming their status as the class' dominant force at the world’s foremost sportscar race.
Piloted by Julien Canal, Patrick Bornhauser and Pedro Lamy, Larbre’s #50 Corvette C6.R was in contention throughout the twice-around-the-clock contest. The Val de Vienne-based outfit again saved their true pace for the main event, qualifying in eighth spot but quickly ascending the order once racing got underway on Saturday.
Making up significant ground in the early stages, the #50 had climbed to P3 by the third hour and was contending for the lead as darkness fell on the La Sarthe circuit.
During the crucial night running the race became a two-horse duel between Larbre and fellow French squad IMSA Performance, whose #67 Porsche remained a threat throughout.
However Larbre ultimately had enough in hand to secure the victory, calling on their extensive winning know-how at the circuit to see them through to the flag.
For Canal today’s triumph represents a third successive Le Mans victory with Larbre, while Bornhauser takes his second and Lamy achieves his first with the team.
The team’s #70 entry was also able to record a strong result at the 24 Hours by taking fifth in GTE Am. The car’s all-French crew of Jean-Philippe Belloc, Pascal Gibon and Christophe Bourret endured a difficult Le Mans week as tyre issues blunted their qualifying pace. However, like the sister car they were able to unlock more speed during the race and, despite an at-times fraught run, brought the car home for a hard-earned finish.
Jack Leconte, Team Owner: “The engineers and I calculated the time each IMSA driver had spent in their car and worked out that Anthony Pons had to return to the cockpit to complete his minimum running. Nevertheless we asked Pedro to push during his final stint and he did a great job. When we had a safe margin of around six minutes I decided to replace Pedro with our local driver, Julien Canal, and let him take the chequered flag at his home race. He has done a great job with us for the past three years and it was a nice way to say thank you and congratulate him for his third consecutive Le Mans win with Larbre Competition.”
Patrick Bornhauser, #50 Corvette C6.R: “I was really stressed during the last half an hour as it was so close and we could have lost everything. The pitwall did a great job and controlled the IMSA car through our strategy. This is my second Le Mans win with Larbre and I would like to thank Jack Leconte and the whole team for their hard work.”
Pedro Lamy, #50 Corvette C6.R: “Mission accomplished! After the tough time I had in LMP1 last year this is the perfect way to return to Le Mans.”
Julien Canal, #50 Corvette C6.R: “It was an honour to take the chequered flag today and I am very grateful to Jack Leconte for allowing me to do so. I’d also like to thank the entire Larbre Competition team for their work these last three years – we owe our success to them.”
Jean-Philippe Belloc, #50 Corvette C6.R: “It has been a difficult week as we were never able to get the performance we wanted from the car. However, thanks to the effort of everyone within the team, we finally crossed the line in fifth. This is very satisfying at Le Mans, which is the toughest endurance race in the world. Whatever the result, being able to finish the 24 Hours is magic.”
Christophe Bourret, #70 Corvette C6.R: “It was a difficult race. We had a lot of trouble adapting to the tyres and a disastrous stint during the night that could have had an impact on our final result. All things considered, I am happy that we have finished amongst the top three WEC-entered cars.”
Pascal Gibon, #70 Corvette C6.R: “A difficult race but we so wanted to do a good job, despite the difficult conditions we’ve experienced since the beginning of the week. This was certainly one of the more complex endurance race that we have run since the beginning of our adventure, so we are delighted with this fifth place.”
Today’s result also sees Larbre move to the top of the FIA World Endurance Championship’s GTE Am Trophy, a lead they will defend during the series next race at Silverstone (25 August). Before that, however, they will celebrate another brilliant Le Mans triumph.
From Larbre Competition press release
Photo: LE MANS (SARTHE, FRANCE), CIRCUIT DES 24 HEURES, 24 HEURES DU MANS, SUNDAY 17TH JUIN 2012, PRESS CONFERENCE.