Rear wheel drama costs Larbre an hour

The Larbre Competition Saleen S7R suffered a difficult start to the Le Mans 24 Hours after losing a wheel three hours into the race.

The left rear wheel detached as Christophe Bouchut braked for Tertre Rouge and pitched him off the track and deep into a gravel trap. After being hauled out by a service vehicle, Bouchut limped back to the pits for repairs.

The team had to replace the transmission, brakes and suspension and also lost time removing a considerable amount of gravel from the American built car. Despite a superb job by the mechanics, around one hour was lost in total, and the #50 car plummeted down the order to 45th overall and ninth in class.

Bouchut started the race from second on the grid, but couldn't compete with the works Corvettes and Aston Martins straight line speed during his double stint. Patrick Bornhauser and David Hallyday then did a single stint each in the car, before the problem with the wheel occurred on Bouchut's out lap upon his return to the cockpit.

Bouchut said: "The car just snapped sideways into the gravel and I knew I was in trouble when my rear wheel overtook me and crashed into the door! It was impossible to compete with the works cars at the start and the slower LMP2s caused me a lot of problems. The leading GT1 cars are quicker than some of the gentlemen drivers in LMP2, but it's hard to pass them as they don't always concentrate! The car seems to be running fine again now, but obviously we've lost a lot of time."

Bornhauser, who returned to the car after six hours said: "We lost a lot of time in the pits, but it was necessary as there were so many stones in the car and they could cause a lot of damage if they're not cleared properly."

-credit: lc