works teams at Le Mans
Having posted the second quickest time during the Official Test Day, Larbre Competition returns to Le Mans this weekend with the hope of challenging the works teams for honours in the GT1 category.
The team, a veteran of 15 Le Mans 24 Hour races, will field a single Saleen S7R in the 91st edition of the world’s most famous motor race. Sportscar superstar Christophe Bouchut and French GT front runners Patrick Bornhauser and David Hallyday will lead the team’s attempts to pull off a shock against the works teams of Aston Martin and Corvette.
While the factory giants remain hot favourites to fill the podium places, Larbre’s third place last year gives the team plenty of optimism ahead of the race. Team Principal Jack Leconte explained his team’s tactics for the race: “We have a car which is capable of a very high level of performance at Le Mans. I believe we can have a good qualifying against the works teams and then maintain a good consistent pace throughout the race. If we manage that, and don’t make any mistakes, we should be able to stay in touch with the factory cars and be ready to capitalise should they have any problems.
“It will be very difficult to beat them and our main aim is to be the best of the privateer teams, but a key area of importance at Le Mans this year will be balancing the car’s set up to be optimised between wet and dry conditions. Larbre Competition has a vast amount of experience of doing just that, and of this race, and that may be our ace card.”
In 2007 a stunning qualifying lap from Christophe Bouchut aboard the Larbre Competition 008 Aston Martin DBR9 stunned the paddock as the Frenchman, a former overall winner at Le Mans, took the GT1-class pole by over 1.5 seconds from the nearest factory car. Second on the grid for the race was Team Oreca’s Saleen S7R, and Bouchut hopes to take the American-built machine to the top this year.
“I’m definitely targeting pole position,” confirmed Christophe. “To win a 24 hour race against two such well financed works teams will be difficult, but pole is a realistic aim. It was a fantastic feeling to beat the Aston Martins and Corvettes last year and I’d love a repeat in the Saleen.”
Bouchut currently leads the FFSA GT Championship in the Saleen along with co-driver Patrick Bornhauser, and the pair are reunited at Le Mans, with the experienced Frenchman confident ahead of his third visit to La Sarthe. “The car felt great at the test day, really comfortable to drive, and showed great pace in the dry. We didn’t push so much in the wet, but we had no problems and I think we’re in great shape for the race.”
The driver line-up is completed by David Hallyday, a Le Mans 24 Hours fan in the truest sense of the word: “It was a childhood dream for me to race here, ever since I watched Steve McQueen in the film, and I still feel like a kid every time I get here. I love the atmosphere and I love the circuit. Hopefully the weather will be a little kinder this year, but I feel good in the Saleen and I cannot wait for the race.”