Larbre Competition claims eight in 24h Le Mans 2016

Larbre Competition claims eight in 24h Le Mans 2016

20.06.2016: #50 Corvette C7.R shows pace and reliability at La Sarthe French GT experts pick up valuable FIA WEC points

•    #50 Corvette C7.R shows pace and reliability at La Sarthe

•    French GT experts pick up valuable FIA WEC points





Larbre Competition added a new 24 Hours of Le Mans finish to its list of honours, after the LMGTE Am-entered #50 Corvette C7.R secured eighth place in class at the 84th running of the French endurance classic (June 18/19).


For its 24th participation in the world’s most gruelling long-distance race, the Vigeant-based outfit could have even made it into the top five but for a Sunday morning off.


Pierre Ragues, Yutaka Yamagishi, and Jean-Philippe Belloc, all took turns behind the wheel of the Corvette C7.R that, in its second appearance at Le Mans, ran like clockwork in a highly-contested LMGTE Am category.


Starting the FIA WEC showpiece event was Pierre, who set off at 15:00, local time, from sixth on a grid that had been soaked by a downpour a few minutes earlier.


 The very tricky conditions led to the race getting under way behind the Safety Car for the 60 cars competing in this year’s edition.


Following a week of poor weather, the initial showers would prove to be the only rain in an event that saw several yellow flags, Slow Zones, and Safety Car periods.


 True to Team Manager Jack Leconte’s pragmatic approach of the race, the Larbre threesome kept their noses clean to stay out of trouble and lap around the iconic 13.629km venue at a fast and consistent pace.


At the six-hour mark, Jean-Philippe completed the first of his many double stints in fourth place before handing the wheel to Yutaka who fed onto the track for the first time.


 The Japanese racer produced a solid, error-free run despite the glare from the setting sun making visibility tricky in places.


Having slotted back in the #50 cockpit, Ragues was still running in the top five less than two minutes behind the leader when the 59 cars still in contention reached the first third of the race.


Yutaka then took over from the 2013 European Le Mans Series Champion to extend Larbre’s momentum by completing a triple stint as the Corvette headed into the night.


The former Super GT ace would be back in action in the morning following a pair of solid triple stints from his French crew-mates.


Yutaka was about to complete his mandatory track time of six hours in these 24 Hours of Le Mans when he spun and hit the barriers on the first of the Porsche curves as he was on his in-lap.


While Yamagishi managed to get back to the pits, the collision required a lengthy amount of time to remove the #50 Corvette from the gravel trap, as well as several repairs at the back of the car.


Such is the competitiveness of the FIA WEC’s LMGTE Am category that any slip-up was bound to result in losing positions.


Despite the best efforts from the Larbre mechanics to ensure the #50 machine spent minimal time in the garage, the 40-minute mishap still pushed the Val-de-Vienne squad outside the leading five cars.


Rejoining the fray for a final triple stint, Jean-Philippe had to manage increasing understeer on a track that was causing accelerated tyre degradation.


The former Spa-Francorchamps 24 Hours winner smoothly rounded his Le Mans shift before giving way for Pierre.


Besides representing Larbre at the start nearly one day earlier, the Caen-born racer was also given the privilege to bring the #50 Corvette C7.R home in eighth place in the LMGTE Am category.


The Vigeant-based outfit also scores valuable FIA WEC points at La Sarthe, as the 24 Hours of Le Mans serve as round three of this year’s campaign with double points on offer.


After the thrills and spills of the French endurance classic, Larbre Competition will return to action at the 6 Hours of Nurburgring, which takes place on July 22-24 at the grand prix venue.




Pierre Ragues: “
After the accident, there was not much left to play for but I still really enjoyed my time in the Corvette C7.R. Obviously, it was a bit frustrating because you’re no longer racing for position but just aiming to bring the car home.


“But that’s part of the magic at the Le Mans 24 Hours and you have to accept it. Everybody has made mistakes on this track. Plus, getting to the finish at La Sarthe is no small achievement. As the saying goes: ‘we win and lose together’.


“Plus, our result is good for the FIA WEC championship. With double points awarded, it was really important to stay amongst the frontrunners after Le Mans and that’s exactly where we are.


“If I had to pick one favourite moment behind the wheel, it’d be my triple stint on Sunday morning around 04:00pm. Many thanks to Jack Leconte and all the Larbre Competition crew; it was great to experience my 10th Le Mans with them."




Yutaka Yamagishi:
“I am sorry to have made a mistake and I’d like to apologise to the team. It’s even more frustrating because we had been competitive all along.


 There are still positives to take, I feel more and more confident in the Corvette C7.R and I’ve learnt a great deal again.


“I would like to extend my warmest thanks to Larbre Competition, Jack Leconte, and my crew-mates Pierre and Jean-Philippe for giving this great opportunity to take part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans with them.”



Jean-Philippe Belloc:
“Finishing the 24 Hours of Le Mans is always a small victory so I’m pretty satisfied with our solid eighth place. We saw with what happened in LMP1 that it’s never over until it’s over.


“The car felt great from start to finish. Hats off to our entire team to have prepared the car so well ahead of the race and made quick repairs after our mishap.


“Of course, we would have liked to finish higher up the order. Any good result at Le Mans requires you to be flawless and that is by no means easy! As Pierre rightly said: ‘we win and lose together’. That’s the Endurance mantra and it means something to me.


“I’d like to thank Jack Leconte and Larbre Competition for the opportunity, as well as my friend Christophe Bourret who made this great Le Mans adventure possible.”



Jack Leconte, Team Manager:
“We delivered a good performance in these 24 Hours of Le Mans, though the end result does not do justice to all the hard work from the entire Larbre Competition team.


That’s part of Le Mans and motor racing in general, to throw up surprises until the very last minute, as we could see again in the overall results today.


 The best feeling in La Sarthe is when you step out on the podium but that was not meant to be this year.


“This said, compared to last year, everything is working better and we are scoring important points in the FIA WEC. I’d focus on the fact that our Corvette C7.R outperformed the LMGTE Am points leader, which bodes well for the remainder of the season.


  If we carry on being this reliable, we can have a say in the championship fight and challenge for the overall podium."




2016 Le Mans 24 Hours – LMGTE Am results




1. Scuderia Corsa / Ferrari 458 Italia / Sweedler-Bell-Segal: 331 laps

2. AF Corse / Ferrari F458 Italia / Perrodo-Collard-Aguas:  2:54.857

3. Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing / Porsche 911 RSR / Al Qubaisi-Heinemeier Hansson-Long: 1 lap

4. Clearwater Racing / Ferrari 458 Italia / Mok-Sawa-Bell: 1 lap

5. Gulf Racing / Porsche 911 RSR / Wainwright-Carroll-Barker: 1 lap

6. Formula Racing / Ferrari 458 Italia / Laursen-Mac-Nielsen: 9 laps

7. Aston Martin Racing / Aston Martin V8 Vantage / Howard-Griffin-Hirsch: 1 lap

8. Larbre Competition / Corvette C7.R / Ragues-Yamagishi-Belloc: 2 laps

9. Team AAI 1 Corvette C7.R / O’Connel-Bryant-Patterson: 10 laps

10. KCMG / Porsche 911 RSR / Ried-Henzler-Camathias-Bachler: 6 laps




FIA World Endurance Championship – LMGTE Am class (after round 3/9)



1. AF Corse / Ferrari F458 Italia: 93 pts
2. Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing / Porsche 911 RSR: 55 pts
3. Larbre Competition / Corvette C7.R: 54 pts
4. Aston Martin Racing / Aston Martin V8 Vantage: 45 pts
5. KCMG / Porsche 911 RSR: 44 pts
6. Gulf Racing / Porsche 911 RSR: 40 pts

 

 
 
 -Anthony Peacock, photos VSA
 

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/larbre-competition-eight-24h-le-mans---150908.html

20.06.2016 / MaP

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