Despite a Chevrolet Corvette C7.R that was on the pace throughout, Larbre Competition had a frustrating opening race of the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship at the 6 Hours of Silverstone on April 12.
Drivers Gianluca Roda, Paolo Ruberti and Kristian Poulsen had a pleasing start to the weekend, placing in the top three in the GTE-Am class on the Friday practice session. The following day, the #50 Corvette qualified P2 in class, proving that the team had a strong chance for a podium finish.
Ruberti started the race for Larbre and soon took the class lead, before returning to 2nd in order to conserve fuel. Later, Roda set out on a strong double stint. However, a stop/go penalty pushed the team back to 5th in class. Despite this setback, the team recovered and Roda soon took 3rd place.
During Poulsen’s double stint, the car was pushed off the track by the #8 Audi Sport Team Joest LMP1 car, which damaged one of the track rods, requiring a pit stop which took 7 laps’ time.
For the race finish, Ruberti returned to the car, and matched the leaders’ pace, but was too far behind to manage a finishing position any better than 7th in class.
“I had two good stints, although during the first one there was a little bit too much understeer,” says Ruberti. “In the second we used different front tyres and the car was better. I think we lost out on the podium because of the penalty and incident with the prototype.
“But we have a good driver line-up to fight for wins later this year. We weren’t lucky at Silverstone but we’ll be trying hard next time out. We just need some luck.”
Gianluca Roda: “Before [the incident with the Audi] I felt optimistic because I like Silverstone and it was the first time I’d raced the new Corvette. It’s a great car and easy to drive; I’m encouraged by what I’ve seen. Hopefully we can put it to better use at Spa and then Le Mans, which is worth double points. Winning there would give us a big championship boost.”
“It looks like we’ll need to change our recipe after Silverstone,” says Jack Leconte, Team Manager. “First of all, it seems that we have a technical issue with our C7.R since its petrol tank has been shrunk to 85 litres instead of the original 90.
“But as our fuel consumption is on par with the other cars we cannot react with as much flexibility as our rivals, like when there’s a Full Course Yellow, for instance. Corvette will be speaking to the regulating body soon, so we’ll see what comes out of their meeting.
“Finally, I had warned our drivers about the need to adopt a very conservative approach during the event. We know what can happen when you get too close to another car through a corner. We had to change a track rod but thankfully managed to do so pretty quickly and send the car back out to complete the race. Silverstone therefore offered us some grounds on which to build and move forwards through methodical work.”
The next race for Larbre Competition in FIA WEC’s GTE-Am class will be the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps on May 2.