Thursday 6 June 2019

Le Mans: Larbre Competition eyes top 5 finish in WEC championship

Larbre Competition looks back at the test day for the 2019 Le Mans 24 Hours, which marks the final round of the 2018/19 FIA World Endurance Championship Super Season where the French team hopes to clinch a top five position in the LMP2 teams’ standings.  The Val de Vienne-based squad arrived at the 13.626km circuit already in a better position with its Ligier JS P217 than it did 12 months ago for the second round of the 2018/19 Super Season, utilising the two four-hour sessions which offer the only track time ahead of race week.

The driver line-up from the Spa round was unchanged. Frenchmen Romano Ricci and Erwin Creed returned alongside Nicholas Boulle, following his maiden race on board the #50 machine last time out. The trio were closely matched, lapping within three seconds of each other and boosting their chances of pushing the car to a strong result in the race. French driver Christian Philippon also drove during the day.

The squad completed 78 laps in stable, warm conditions. The best time of 3:35.457 is five seconds quicker than what Larbre set at last year’s test, as it worked on long-run pace rather than pure performance, especially at the end of the day. Larbre Competition now focuses on the Le Mans 24 Hours race week itself, with scrutineering on Sunday 9th June before practice on Wednesday 12th. 

Jack Leconte, Team Manager:  “This is the second Le Mans 24 Hours within the Super Season, so we benefited from data and information from last year plus the data from the other rounds of the championship. There’s been a jump forward compared to last year when we were nearly 10 seconds off the fastest time, this year the gap is reduced by half without trying for a quick run, as we focused our efforts on improving the set-up of the car thanks to better feedback from the drivers. The objective is to finish in the top eight of the class, if possible, and the top 15 overall. Last year we did not have any ambition of a result, but this year there is a target. It’s quite a high one for us to reach but this is the goal.”

Erwin Creed: “It was a real pleasure to return to the Le Mans 24 Hours circuit. The first lap on the Mulsanne Straight was awesome, I shouted with happiness in my helmet. It is a delight to be back. Nevertheless, we were very cautious during this test day as the purpose was to take our marks quietly so as not to damage the car. There were a lot of incidents during the day with many full course yellow periods and slow zones. In addition to these interruptions, you had to be careful as the track was very green and dirty in the morning because part of the circuit is on open roads. We drove with our basic set-up in the morning as there was not much grip. In the afternoon, we focused on fine-tuning the balance for race conditions. Romano and I have progressed a lot since last year and if we do not make mistakes during the race, a good result in on the table.”

Nicholas Boulle
: “It was a productive day where the team accomplished what we set out to achieve. Larbre has some stability in what is arguably the most important race in the championship, but we showed good improvement during the test day, which will give us a solid foundation to work on the next time we’re on track for practice.”

Romano Ricci: “It was great to be back at Le Mans. That feeling when you blast down the Mulsanne Straight for the first time of the day is immense. I feel like we’ve made a big step forward compared to last year, so hopefully that means we’re a little bit more competitive.” 

Source: team press release
Pictures: Kristof Vermeulen