Larbre Competition seal ILMC podium at Spa
Larbre Competition scored their first Intercontinental Le Mans Cup podium finish of the season in Belgium last weekend at the 1000km of Spa-Francorchamps. Julien Canal, Patrick Bornhauser and Gabriele Gardel took their Corvette C6R to third position in the GTE-Am category despite being delayed by a puncture in round two of the global endurance series.
After setting the third fastest time in first practice, the French team had been confident of a solid qualifying performance. But when Gardel’s first run on fresh tyres was compromised by traffic, the chance was gone, leaving them to start Saturday’s race seventh in class. With the Le Mans 24 Hours just four weeks away, it was imperative that the team keep their noses clean throughout the race. And despite one or two hairy moments, that’s exactly what they did, taking advantage of others’ misfortune to record their first podium of the season.
Gabriele Gardel: “The car had a good balance following the Le Mans Test Day. I took the start, which is always difficult because many drivers behave like it’s a sprint. Instead, we decided to take it easy in the early stages and then go for it later on. The podium will really improve morale within the team who, as well as my team-mates, I’d like to thank. The car was great and I am convinced we will be in contention at Le Mans.”
Julien Canal: “I was delighted to return to Spa after a few years away, especially as I was driving a Corvette GT2 car! My opening stint went well, the car felt balanced, and I was able to overtake three of our class rivals. But just before the end of the stint, I was committed to overtaking a Ferrari which then turned in on me. I returned to the pits three laps early but fortunately there wasn’t too much damage. I think this third place is a good omen for Le Mans and will only serve to motivate the entire team further.”
Patrick Bornhauser: “Gabriele made a good start which laid the foundations for a solid result. My first stint also went well and I found myself fighting for between second and fifth place, despite the contact made with an LMP2 prototype. Then, during my stint at the end of the race, I was hit by Toni Vilander’s #71 Ferrari. Fortunately we were able to hold on for third which is encouraging for the team ahead of our next challenge, the Le Mans 24 Hours.”
Jack Leconte, Larbre Competition Team Owner: “The GTE entry list for the second ILMC race was very large with the 24 cars taking the start represented by six different manufacturers: BMW, Lotus, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Porsche and of course Corvette. Following the engine issues that struck at Sebring, our attention was firmly fixed on the new unit’s evolution. I’m happy to report that no problems were encountered throughout our nine hours total running at Spa. This is of great reassurance ahead of Le Mans.
“I asked the drivers to be extremely sensible with just three weeks before our arrival at La Sarthe. We were therefore cautious in qualifying and at the start of the race bearing in mind the serious accidents that had affected others during practice and qualifying at this difficult circuit. Gabriele drove perfectly throughout his double stint thanks to his significant experience and was up to second when Patrick took over despite suffering a puncture. His calmness rewarded the team’s hard work and is the example others must follow if we are to challenge for another Le Mans victory.
“Julien’s mistake with the CRS Ferrari dropped us to sixth place, but gave everything to bring the car back into podium contention. After that, Patrick had three more contacts in his second stint. A combination of his driving ability and our mechanics’ perfect pit work was necessary to clinch a podium finish on the penultimate lap. The pace required to climb back up the order has reassured me of our potential at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and for the rest of the ILMC season.
“From now on I will be making sure we do not miss a single opportunity to clinch our first victory with the Corvette C6R. Everyone at Larbre is focused on fine-tuning the car in an effort to secure a significant overall result for Corvette at the 2011 Le Mans 24 Hours.” The Le Mans 24 Hours runs all week from Sunday 5 June, when all 56 cars entered for the event will begin scrutineering procedures. Larbre Competition will present the Corvette #50 on Monday 6 June at 14:30. The race itself starts at 15:00 local time on Saturday 11.
-source: larbre competition