SEBRING DISAPPOINTMENT FOR CARE LARBRE After running without any technical problems for the entire week, the 12 Hours of Sebring today dealt a cruel blow to the Ferrari 550 Maranello of the Care Larbre team and its Champion driver...
SEBRING DISAPPOINTMENT FOR CARE LARBRE
After running without any technical problems for the entire week, the 12 Hours of Sebring today dealt a cruel blow to the Ferrari 550 Maranello of the Care Larbre team and its Champion driver line-up.
Just before the six-hour mark, the car suffered gearbox failure which ultimately lead to the Ferrari's retirement from the race. Reigning Champ Car World Series Champion, Sebastien Bourdais, who was at the wheel at the time, had no warning this was about to happen and was stranded out on the back straight of the track before being towed back to the paddock.
The reason for the failure has not yet been determined but it was serious enough to prevent any repairs being possible.
Jack Leconte, Team Principal: "We were running well and were part of the fight between Saleen, Aston Martin and Maserati and always ready to reach the top three. Unfortunately the gearbox has broken and we cannot change it so that means the story is ended for this year. Now we have to move on and prepare for the start of our season in Europe next week in the French FFSA GT Series."
Sebastien Bourdais (F): "It is disappointing because we have been working hard but we weren't fast enough. I was surprised with the race pace we had, which was pretty much a second off the pace of our competitors. Having said that, I think a podium finish would still have been reachable as we were very consistent and weren't making any mistakes.
"My first stint went very well, and I was lapping in the 1m59s. The older tyres in the second stint made it a bit harder, probably slowing us by a second a lap. But in endurance races you have to keep going as, even if you lose 20 seconds, you only need a safety car and you can find yourself back in the lead again. It's too bad as we were hoping for a reliable car -- it's strongest point in the past -- but this just proves that nothing is certain in racing. I've really enjoyed being here at Sebring with Care Racing and Larbre Competition, and working with Christophe and Fabrizio. Let's hope we can do it again one day."
Christophe Bouchut (F), reigning LMES GTS Champion: "I think our race performance was where we expected it to be, slower than the Corvettes and the Aston Martins. What is a surprise is concerning the reliability of the Ferrari and it is usually one of the strongest and most reliable cars. I was expecting a strong chance to have a good result but the gearbox broke. We don't know why. It's disappointing because even though we are not running in the whole Championship and going for points, it is a special race and everyone has worked hard and invested a lot for to be here. I'm always disappointed when we don't finish a race."
Fabrizio Gollin (I), reigning FIA GT Champion: "I've had a great experience being here and I learnt a lot. Every day I was here I got faster. My first stint today was fine, not bad, but in the second hour my seat wasn't perfect. My seatbelts were too loose and it was beginning to be dangerous for me as my leg was hurting so much from being bounced around inside the car. I didn't want to take any risks with this problem -- it was better to lose a few seconds rather than the car."
Despite it's failure to achieve success at Sebring, the Ferrari 550 Maranello's track record speaks for itself. Since its racing debut in 2001, the car has recorded 32 victories in the GTS or GT categories of international sportscar races (ACO or FIA regulated series accordingly), a remarkable achievement for a privately funded programme.