Second place boosts championship hopes for Larbre Competition

Second place boosts championship hopes for Larbre Competition

21.08.2007: Second place boosts championship hopes for Larbre Competition

PHOTOS on automobilsport.com under le-mans-series--89.html

Larbre Competition’s hopes of winning the GT1 championship were given a lift at the Spa 1000kms with their fourth consecutive Le Mans Series podium of the 2007 season.

The Aston Martin DBR9 of Christophe Bouchut, Fabrizio Gollin and Gabriele Gardel claimed second-place, equalling their best result of the season, and now sit just two points behind the Team Oreca Saleen and one behind the Luc Alphand Adventures Corvette, in the championship standings.

Having started from sixth on the GT1 grid, Frenchman Christophe Bouchut made an excellent start and had climbed to second by the end of the fifth lap having passed the Aston Martin’s of Jet Alliance Racing and Team Modena, the Racing Box Saleen and the Luc Alphand Corvette in the opening stages. He then gave chase to the Team Oreca Saleen and had closed the gap to under five seconds when he was handed a stop/go penalty.

Despite the penalty further strong stints from Gardel and Gollin kept the car second-in-class and whilst the Saleen proved to be too far ahead to catch, the result keeps the championship battle well and truly alive heading into the penultimate round at Silverstone next month.

 

Team Principal Jack Leconte said: "Today saw us make a big step up in our performance. We were faster than the Corvette, which is a big improvement since the beginning of the season and whilst the Saleen is still the car to beat, we matched it for pace early in the race. We were also very unlucky with two of the safety car periods. Christophe was penalised, but I thought he more than made up for that with the fantastic pace he showed today. The championship battle is now very close and the next race at Silverstone, which is the home race for Aston Martin, will be very important."

 

Christophe Bouchut: "We’ve reduced the deficit in the championship and to win that is still very much the target. It will be hard, because the Saleen is still so quick, but today they had the perfect race. The stop/go penalty I received was very harsh because the car I overtook at Eau Rouge was going very slowly and I had no option other than to avoid him."

 

Gabriele Gardel: "The car was really competitive and this is the first time we have truly been able to take the fight to the Saleen. This weekend has really given us the motivation to push for the championship, because now we believe it is possible to win it. We are all very positive and happy."

 

Fabrizio Gollin: "I think we were quite unlucky not to win because we kept losing time under the safety car. I’m happy though because it was a hard race with rain, safety cars and accidents. We are closer to the pace of the Saleen and faster than the Corvette so the championship is still wide open."

 

Car 51 meanwhile looked set for its best finish of the season for most of the race before an alternator problem dropped them to sixth at the finish. Steve Zacchia took the start and moved from eighth to fourth by the end of his double-stint. Scotsman Gregor Fisken took over and enjoyed a battle with Jean-Luc Blanchemain’s Corvette, pitting from fifth place during a Safety Car period to hand to Gregory Franchi.

 

The Belgian, racing at his home circuit, was up to fourth when a problem with an alternator pully forced him to pit and dropped him out of the reckoning. However the car did return to take its third sixth place finish of the season and score more championship points.

 

Jack Leconte: "Car 51’s race was very exciting for all three drivers. They were all delighted to be fighting with the Jet Alliance Aston Martins as well as the second Luc Alphand Corvette. It looked like they were set for fourth position, which would have been a great result, until the technical problem at the end. However the signs are very promising."

 

Steve Zacchia: "We’ve finished the race and scored points, but the best thing about today is that we have seen that we are competitive. We were up to fourth position for a while and the car had good grip and was very consistent."

 

Gregor Fisken: "It was probably my best race for Larbre Competition and I really enjoyed my battle with the second Alphand car during my stint. It was really good to actually be racing in these GT1 cars and it has given me a lot of confidence. The car felt very good round here and it was encouraging that the car got up to fourth before the problems at the end."

 

Gregory Franchi: "We had good pace today and by the end of my first stint we were up to fourth in class. Unfortunately we had the problem with the alternator, but the car felt much better than at the Nurburgring and my lap times were good and regular in the 2m 19s."

 

- Andy Wilkinson -   photo LMS

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21.08.2007 / MaP

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