FIA WEC: Larbre reflect on 2012 season
The 2012 season was an enduring and challenging test for French GTE team Larbre Compétition. After two victories at the grueling Le Mans 24 Hours (with Corvette), Larbre chose to tackle the new FIA WEC endurance series with a two car entry. The team, which has lifted no less than 11 international and 4 national titles in 12 years, received great support from Corvette in the form of technical assistance and engineering help. Benefitting from this, the French team was the only one within the GTE Am class to start two cars at each round of the Championship, in contrast to last year when the Vigeant-based squad won the ILMC title but with a single entry. In the end, the team won the FIA GTE Am championship.
“This championship is special,” said the Team Manager who would never – no matter what incentive is offered – give up the ‘fun’ of deciding strategy on the pit wall. “We have taken titles in ‘Le Mans’ series before, but this is the first time we’ve ended the season with an FIA World Championship trophy.”
This years title adds to the rich list of achievements the team has achieved in its long history of competition (especially in endurance racing). During the season, team owner Jack Laconte called upon the help of several drivers, including former Peugeot Sport driver and multiple 24 Hours of Nürburgring winner, Pedro Lamy. Always fast, the Portuguese supported Julien Canal, who has chalked up three class wins in three appearances at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the gentleman driver, Patrick Bornhauser. He gave up his place to Fernando Rees for some rounds, notably at São Paulo where the latter lives.
Knowledge of the São Paulo circuit undoubtedly contributed to the No.50 Corvette’s victory, but after the race the rear ride height was found not to conform to regulations. Jack Leconte appealed the decision to exclude the car, but in the end he withdrew this once the title was wrapped up. “The exclusion was extremely embarrassing, but we nevertheless managed to lift the title,” continued Leconte. “I am very happy to have been able to give another chance to Pedro Lamy, who wasn’t very well treated by his previous employer. He brought a lot to a demanding crew who had complete faith in him. Everyone put their ego aside to form a really strong team with mutual respect for each other.”
After having won in GTE Am, what new challenges lie in store for Jack Leconte? “We would really like a constructor to let us show them what we can do, a little like Oreca with Toyota, with a car in GTE Pro but the current economic situation isn’t helping us. Whatever happens we are going to do whatever necessary to once again be present at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2013, and also in the FIA WEC. This year we decided to play a multi-cultural card and, for the majority of the races, two local mechanics joined the team. The links we’ve forged in the course of all our previous years in endurance racing have allowed us to welcome Americans, Brazilians, Japanese…their local knowledge was very valuable to us and we lived alongside them for a week: the WEC also opens up new horizons.”
Cecile Bonardel (translation by Fiona Miller)