Larbre Competition Le Mans Hour 20 Report

Circuit de la Sarthe

Larbre Competition dominating LM GTE Am class at Le Mans

Larbre Competition has enjoyed a hugely successful run through the night and early morning at the 79th edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours with the French team currently sitting first and second in the LM GTE Am category with four hours of the iconic race remaining.

The team’s #50 Corvette C6R of Gabriele Gardel, Patrick Bornhauser and Julien Canal currently leads the category by one lap from the squad’s #70 Porsche 997 GT3 RSR shared by Jean-Philippe Belloc, Christophe Bourret and Pascal Gibon which is comfortably clear of the car in third place.

During the night, Larbre had hoped to open up a gap at the head of the field, but a lengthy Safety Car period prevented any real progress, with the race neutralised for more than two hours as repairs to Armco barriers took place following a massive accident for an LMP1 Audi.

When racing resumed, the front of the GTE Am class saw five cars running on the same lap, but Gabriele Gardel made his way to the front of the field in the Corvette and the team has consistently extended its advantage ever since.

While many of its class rivals experienced problems, the impressive pace and reliability of both Larbre’s cars has seen them pull well clear of the pack allowing the team to concentrate on consistency, avoiding the many incidents that have littered this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours, during the final stretch of the race.

#50 Larbre Competition Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1: Patrick Bornhauser, Julien Canal, Gabriele Gardel
#50 Larbre Competition Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1: Patrick Bornhauser, Julien Canal, Gabriele Gardel

Photo by: Rainier Ehrhardt

Jack Leconte: “Night time in Le Mans is normally an opportunity for us to attack and create a gap. This year, however, with the horrible accidents we have seen, the period has been used in a different way for several hours.

“The result was that in the early hours of the morning, there were five GTE Am cars on the same lap. The battle started with the #81 Flying Lizards Porsche. Just like that classic bicycle race I enjoy watching, we still had some legs at the top of the last climb!

“Gabriele Gardel passed Spencer Pumpelly at sunrise and now we are managing the traffic while trying to preserve our 1-2 position for the Larbre Competition #50 Corvette C6R and #70 Porsche RSR.”

Gabriele Gardel: “When I started my stint, the Flying Lizards car was four seconds ahead of me and I wanted to catch him as we were faster. It was a great battle, but then the Safety Car came on track again and the tyres went cold. I got really tired and then had to get back into my rhythm as the caution period lifted. I managed to maintain our position in front before handing over to Patrick. There are four hours left and we are crossing our fingers. We won’t change anything regarding our strategy.”

Julien Canal: “I did my night time stint on worn tyres used by Patrick and I drove very safely to avoid all the pitfalls of racing in the dark. During the second stint, on new tyres, there was another Safety Car period but I did my best to keep temperature in the rubber. Towards the end of my stint the Safety Car came in and my lap times were consistent, around 4.06s, before I handed the wheel to Gabriele.”

Patrick Bornhauser: “The first part of my stint was quite quiet and I kept to the race strategy set by the team. I was also cautious with debris on the track and very careful with the prototypes when they overtook me. I managed to regularly lap between 4'10 and 4'14. The car was much easier to drive in the second stint partly because the traffic had eased off, which meant I could focus more on my driving before handing over to Julien. We are quite confident now.”

-source: larbre competition

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About this article
Series Le Mans
Drivers Jean-Philippe Belloc , Spencer Pumpelly , Gabriele Gardel , Julien Canal , Jack Leconte , Patrick Bornhauser , Pascal Gibon , Christophe Bourret
Teams Larbre Competition
Tags corvette, larbre competition, porsche