Successful test day launches Larbre Competition’s 2013 Le Mans bid

Larbre Competition team makes its 20th appearance at Le Mans 24 Hours

Larbre Competition geared up for next weekend’s Le Mans 24 Hours with a successful outing at the event’s official Test Day last Sunday where both of its Pro Am class Corvette C6.Rs were in action. The reigning FIA World Endurance Champions have notched up three consecutive class victories at the world’s greatest motor race and will be amongst the favourites to continue that streak on June 22/23 when the team makes its 20th appearance there.

A mixture of wet, damp and dry track conditions throughout the Test Day helped the French team gain valuable data during its only opportunity to test at Circuit de la Sarthe throughout the year.

The pair of Corvettes feature a mix of its current FIA WEC drivers and those new to the team. Patrick Bornhauser and Julien Canal are no strangers to winning Le Mans with Larbre and were on hand to guide new American team-mate Ricky Taylor, selected by GM’s factory to drive the #50 C6.R, around the demanding 13.6 kilometre-long circuit that features a mix of closed public roads and purpose-built race track.

#70 Larbre Compétition Corvette C6.R: Philippe Dumas, Manuel Rodrigues, Cooper MacNeil
#70 Larbre Compétition Corvette C6.R: Philippe Dumas, Manuel Rodrigues, Cooper MacNeil

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

The #70 sister machine meanwhile has two Le Mans rookies in its line-up, with another GM driver – Cooper MacNeil – being joined by Philippe Dumas. Just like Taylor, both were able to complete their mandatory 10 laps that is compulsory for all first timers competing at Le Mans after benefitting from the advice of team-mate Manu Rodrigues, who completes the crew.

Having successfully qualified its three rookies during the morning, Larbre was able to concentrate on race set-up once the weather cleared in the afternoon. Having found a good balance, the team will be working on improving the brakes and accommodating MacNeil’s 1.98m frame back at its Val de Vienne base before returning to Le Mans later this week.

Jack Leconte, Team Manager: “The #50 line-up differs to that running in the FIA WEC and the #70 car has not appeared this year, so we took the opportunity for everyone to meet during a test session at the Val de Vienne circuit earlier this month. There’s a good mix this year, with GM Racing’s pair of factory nominated drivers Ricky and Cooper, as well as Manu and Hexis Racing team manager Philippe bringing something different to the table. The likes of Patrick and Julien have been part of the team for some time now and their experience is vital inside the garage and paddock. All of us will be attending the training camp we run at the Medoc Golf Club and the Centre National d’Entrainement des Forces de Gendarmerie (CNFG) de Saint Astier prior to Le Mans each year, which helps build team spirit ahead of the race.”

Patrick Bornhauser, #50 Corvette C6.R: “I am delighted to be back at this famous circuit, which I like a lot. Unfortunately track conditions were very difficult and prohibited us from normal running until the final hour when it dried. We met our new team-mate Ricky Taylor, a young American driver discovering Le Mans for the first time and who paid a lot of attention to our advice. We cannot wait for next week when the real action begins.”

Julien Canal, #50 Corvette C6.R: “We had quite wet weather, conditions that made it difficult around such a specific layout. But the Corvette performed well and, for a while, allowed me to hold the class’ fastest time and compete against the Pro category Corvettes. The Michelin tyres were also very competitive and retained good levels of grip over a long period.”

Ricky Taylor, #50 Corvette C6.R: “I was able to become very comfortable with the car at the test and have confidence in its strength over 24 hours. It’s also been wonderful working with Larbre. Despite the language barrier with some of the team they have made me feel very comfortable. Larbre’s quality is proven by their great history, especially at Le Mans. As for the test itself, I was slightly disappointed by the conditions and to not get more dry laps, but feel more prepared in the changeable conditions as anything can happen at Le Mans.”

Cooper MacNeil, #70 Corvette C6.R: “My first laps at Le Mans were in the wet, of course. My first stint in the car went well as I was just trying to learn the track. I was on a full wet set-up with Michelin rain tyres. The track was quite slick as most of it is run on public roads that are covered in a year's worth of diesel and oil. The rain amplifies the issue, but as more cars ran the grip began to improve. I knew I had to complete the 10 mandatory laps for rookies, so I wasn't trying to push the car all that hard. The afternoon session was much better as the track was pretty much dry towards the end of the session. I was then able to get a good idea of how quick this place really is on a set of perfect Michelin slicks. I can't wait until the race next week!”

Manu Rodrigues, #70 Corvette C6.R: “I have been positively surprised by my first experience with the team. Jack is much friendlier than he can sometimes appear from the outside! The big and beautiful American car is also great to drive. With such a professional and well organised team it’s impossible not to enjoy the dream week ahead.”

Philippe Dumas, #70 Corvette C6.R: “I know Le Mans very well having studied and raced karts there. But I had never tried the full and fantastic 24 Hours circuit! It wasn’t the easiest first outing with the bad weather but a fantastic experience nevertheless. All went well and I feel very confortable in the car and with the team. I cannot wait for next week.”

Le Mans’ week-long schedule begins this Sunday and Monday with scrutineering. The first track action kicks off on Wednesday with final qualifying on Thursday, before the race itself gets underway at 3pm local time Saturday.

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About this article
Series Le Mans , WEC
Drivers Eric Gilbert , Manuel Rodrigues , Julien Canal , Jack Leconte , Patrick Bornhauser , Ricky Taylor , Cooper MacNeil , Philippe Dumas
Teams Larbre Competition
Article type Testing report
Tags 24 hours of le mans, 24h, 2013, corvette, larbre competition, le mans, pro am, wia