by narrowest of margins
Larbre Competition will start the 91st edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours from second on the GT1-class grid after missing pole position by just one tenth of a second in Thursday’s second and final qualifying session.
Having seen both the works Corvettes lower their best laps and the two works Aston Martins also improve significantly, Christophe Bouchut responded with a time of 3:47.761, over three seconds quicker than his best from Wednesday’s session, to take second. However, he felt he could have been even quicker had he not been blocked by the pole winning Corvette on his best lap. His next flying lap saw him go faster again in the first and second sectors, but it came to nothing as he put a wheel on the grass in sector three and saw his attempts to take a second consecutive Le Mans 24 Hours GT1 pole position foiled. Nevertheless, his time for the privateer team was eight tenths quicker than the second works Corvette and over a second faster than the lead car of last year’s race winners Aston Martin Racing.
Meanwhile, David Hallyday enjoyed significantly more night time running, having only managed a single lap on Wednesday due to the session being red flagged, and comfortably completed his compulsory three laps to ensure his eligibility for the race. Patrick Bornhauser also impressed, continuing his trend of posting consistent lap times throughout his stints.
Team Principal Jack Leconte commented: “Our level of performance was incredible and once again Christophe produced a magical lap. The fight for pole position was extremely complicated and difficult against a big opponent like Corvette. I guess, when you see your main rival turning the timing screen green in the first two sectors, you make sure you’re on track at the right place! However to be second, so close to the Corvette, and so far ahead of the Aston Martins, is very pleasing.”
Christophe Bouchut: “I’m pleased to be second but quite angry with the Corvette. On my quickest lap he was a long way in front of me on the track, but slowed down to make sure I caught him and then blocked me from the Porsche Curves all the way to the end of the start/finish straight. There were plenty of opportunities to go off line and allow me to pass, but he didn’t. Despite that, we are four seconds quicker than the Saleen managed here last year, which is a very good achievement.”
David Hallyday: “When the Aston Martins went ahead of us, we decided to concentrate on improving our best time with Christophe and he did a great job. We have a very good car, but we know the race will be tough. The Astons and Corvettes are quick and reliable, but we’ll think about our strategy and wait and see what happens.”
Patrick Bornhauser: “My job was to shake down the race engine and I also did some work on the gearbox and gave my feedback on the overall set up. Everything went very well and I’m very happy ahead of the race.”
The Le Mans 24 Hours starts on Saturday 14 June at 15:00 local time and is LIVE on Eurosport.